Fairy Tales: A-Z List 7, Introduction (Again)

A-Z List 7 tackles fairy tales in various guises. 

I originally tackled A-Z List 7 by subject-matter organization or Dewey Decimal number: 398.2, 398.20.., 398.21...

I changed my mind. For one, not all libraries use similar numbering for the same item. Aesop is cataloged under 398.2, 398.24, 398.209 in the Maine Minerva system (even 811 when a fable is included in an anthology). I often couldn't tell where one subject-matter left off and another began, especially since I borrow books from more than one library. 

I am not advocating a single designation for Aesop by the way. I find the various choices illuminate how a text is perceived. It CAN be cataloged in different ways!

But for the sake of transparency...

I either needed to pick a library and read every single picture book within 398 or skip around, which wouldn't give the list much cohesiveness or an end point. 

Not that an end is required, but I needed some kind of organizational approach.

Portland Public Library uses the alphabetical approach. I resisted this approach at first as lacking variety. (A whole month of Grimm? Really?!) But in fact, the alphabetical approach still offers surprises. 

I also found, being a lover of context and history, that I was looking up collectors and authors of various tales anyway. I figured I might as well use the system that gives me those collectors and authors upfront.

Portland Public Library starts with Aesop. 

I don't count Aesop's fables as fairy tales. But it is a good place to start since it begins what will likely become a theme in these posts: What IS a fairy tale? 

I have nothing against Aesop's fables as fables and actually use them in my composition course when I illustrate the line between fiction and essay. Aesop is right on the line. 

In fiction, a story doesn't have to prove anything. 

In essay writing, however, a story must prove a claim. I don't come right out and say, "Oh, please, stop writing essays about yourselves!" But I get very close. 

I don't reject first-hand, primary observations, however, because I want students to learn the difference: a story about visiting New York to prove that New York is a good tourist spot is different from a meandering story about "how I felt one day and what I learned." 

Aesop falls into the first category. Though the lessons weren't originally attached to the stories, they are clearly meant as aids to pondering deeper truths. The lion and mouse aren't going on some talk show to unload their personal moments of crisis to a voyeuristic audience. The lion and mouse are proving:

Little friends may prove great friends.

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