When Sabine suggested Katie Crackernuts, how could I resist? Never mind the story, I just love the name! The sound of it, the alliteration, the suggestiveness… I love it all.
The story itself is interesting, too. For once, the wickedness of the stepmother is pretty much taken for granted and skimmed over. She swaps her stepdaughter’s head for a sheep’s head and then plays no further part in the tale. No prolonged scheming, no come-uppance, no desperate grief on the part of the father. Instead, the story moves quickly on to concentrate on the daughters and their fortunes – and again, for once the daughters (or at least, one of them) turn out to be quite capable of sorting themselves out.
It is often said that mothers tend to be harder on their daughters than their sons, perhaps so that they can look after themselves if times turn hard. Whatever the reason, Katie’s mother must have done a good job. This fairy tale heroine is resourceful, capable, caring and intelligent, all of which more than make up for her apparently being the less pretty of the two sisters.
As a result, my feelings of sympathy are for the fairy baby in the tale. Two toys taken away, with nothing in return but a few moments distraction. Children become very attached to their toys and I worry that the baby was left without a favourite. I would say that my focus this month would be to be to provide a replacement, but I’m also intrigued by the links between the story and TB/consumption. Who knows?