Story: Little Briar Rose
June is storytelling month on the blog! This is my retelling of the Grimm's fairy tale Little Briar Rose (also known as Sleeping Beauty). This was one of my daughter Aiya's favorite kindergarten stories and it's wonderful for older kindergarteners or first grade. The original story has a bit more gore, as the princes who come in search of the princess die a "pitiable" death when they are stuck in the wall of thorns. I will leave it up to you which version works best for your family!
Once upon a time there was a King and a Queen who so wanted to have a child of their own. Every day they would say to each other, “If only we could have a little child!” but they never did. Then one day the Queen was walking along the river when out hopped a frog. He hopped right up to her and said, “Your wish shall be fulfilled. In one year’s time you shall have a daughter.”
And it was true! In one year’s time the Queen and King had a little baby girl. They thought the baby was the most beautiful thing they had ever seen. The King was so overjoyed that he decided to throw a great feast of celebration. He invited all of his friends, relatives, and acquaintances to come to the feast and he even decided to invite the Wise Women of the kingdom. Now there were thirteen Wise Women but the King only had twelve golden plates for them to eat off of, so he decided to only invite twelve.
On the day of the feast everyone came to celebrate the new baby princess and they named her Little Briar Rose. When everyone had eaten, the Wise Women came forward to bestow their magical gifts upon the princess. They gave her gifts such as virtue, kindness, beauty, riches, good nature, wisdom, and all that anyone could ask for.
But after the eleventh Wise Woman had given her gift, suddenly the thirteenth came in. She was furious that she had not been invited to the feast, and without looking at anyone she declared in a loud voice, “On her fifteenth birthday, the King’s daughter shall prick herself on a spindle and fall down dead.” Then just as suddenly, she left.
Everyone was shocked, but the twelfth Wise Woman stepped forward and said, “I still have my gift to give. I cannot undo this evil spell but I can soften it. When the princess pricks her finger on her fifteenth birthday, she will not die, but will fall into a deep sleep for a hundred years.”
The King did not want his daughter to suffer any misfortune, so he ordered that every spinning wheel and every spindle in the entire kingdom be destroyed. And Little Briar Rose had a happy childhood and grew to enjoy all the magical gifts the Wise Women had given her. She was very much loved by everyone.
On her fifteenth birthday, Briar Rose decided to explore the castle. She came to a part she had never visited before and then she came to a tower. She began to climb the stairs, and she climbed up and up and up to the very top of the tower. There was a door so she went in, and inside there was a little room and an old woman sat spinning flax with her spindle. Of course Briar Rose had never seen anyone spinning before, because of her father’s decree, and she was quite curious!
“Good day, old mother,” said the princess. “What are you doing there?” And the old woman replied, “I am spinning.” Briar Rose asked, “What is that thing that rattles round and round like that?” and she was so curious that she reached out to touch the spindle. She pricked her finger on it and instantly fell into a deep sleep, falling over onto a bed that was nearby.
As soon as Briar Rose fell asleep, the entire castle fell asleep as well. The King and Queen fell asleep in their thrones, and the court fell asleep all around them. The cook in the kitchen fell asleep, as did the maid who was about to pluck a hen, and all the flies on the wall. Even the fire fell asleep in the hearth and stopped cooking the meat. Outside the animals in the barnyard fell asleep, and so did the pigeons on the roof and the birds in the trees. Even the wind died down and the leaves in the trees were perfectly still.
All around the sleeping castle, a great hedge of thorns began to grow. It grew all around the castle, so tall that you could not even see the flag on the roof, and so thick that you could not see through to the other side. Now nobody could venture near the castle, but people from far and wide talked about it and about the beautiful princess who lay sleeping inside. For years and years, many young men from far and wide heard about the beautiful princess and they wanted to come and wake her up. So they would travel to the castle, but not one of them could ever get through the wall of thorns.
After long, long years, the son of a King heard about the princess and he felt that he must go and see her and wake her up. People warned him that he could never get through the wall of thorns, but he felt that he must try. So he traveled to the sleeping castle and arrived there on the very day that Briar Rose was to awaken, one hundred years after she pricked her finger.
The King’s son walked up to the wall of thorns and was about to push his way through, when all of the thorns turned to flowers. The whole hedge turned into a wall of beautiful blooming roses. And as the prince walked through they parted as easily as a curtain. He was amazed to see every living thing asleep. He saw the animals asleep in the barnyard, the King and Queen asleep in their thrones, and the cook asleep in the kitchen. He wandered through the whole castle searching for the sleeping princess.
At last he found the old tower and he climbed up and up and up the stairs. He went into the little room at the top and there he saw Briar Rose asleep on the bed. She was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen and he could not take his eyes off her. The prince bent down to kiss Briar Rose, her eyes fluttered open, and she gazed up at him sweetly. So Briar Rose and the prince went down the stairs together.
As soon as the princess awoke, the entire castle began to awaken. The wind began to blow in the trees and the birds began to sing. The animals in the barnyard and the pigeons on the roof woke up. The cook in the kitchen awoke, the maid woke and began to pluck the hen, the flies started buzzing on the walls, and the fire blazed up and began to cook the meat again. The court woke up and just as the King and Queen awoke on their thrones, in came Briar Rose and the prince hand in hand. They were very much in love, so they were married and they lived contented to the end of their days.