Editor's Note: Steve Shilstone is a long time writer and shares his lovely fairy tale flash fiction for free on his blog Fiddleeebod. This gentleman tells delightful tales and when I asked if he could share a personal story about his love for fairy tales, the story he sent me was no exception. Enjoy! (I've included links to his website, which also showcases his available books, below.)
A Yellow Fairy Book Tale
by Steve Shilstone
There it is, offered for sale on ebay, a bargain at $400, an 1894 first edition copy of Andrew Lang’s Yellow Fairy Book. It is a much healthier twin to the battered and tattered volume I discovered on a shelf of my mother’s bookcase around 1954.
If memory serves (sometimes it does), I was 10 years old and searching for something to read. Down a row of books I went, pulling, examining, rejecting, putting back, until I came to a volume so worn and tired (used and loved) that the printing on the spine was unreadable. The cover, however, though faded, beckoned. Well, have a look at it. Enticing, no? And so, like Dorothy opening the door of her house after it landed on a witch in Oz, I opened the Yellow Fairy Book and proceeded to lose myself in tales of dragons, witch-maidens, a glass mountain, and the occasional nixy.
Plucking the book, long lost now, from that shelf remains among the clearest of my memory shards. How did it come to be there on that shelf? What was its story? I don’t know, but I can take a pretty good guess.
Once upon a time, in 1894 to be exact, a newspaperman brought home the newest Fairy Book from Andrew Lang to read to his daughters. The two girls were delighted, enchanted, and pretty much over the moon about it. The fact that their father had interviewed Sitting Bull was okay, but it rated low compared to the new fairy story book. Years passed, and the book found its way from Evanston, Illinois to Los Angeles, California and later to the Ojai ranch home of the older daughter when she married. Four children and a lot of use later, the book was the beloved property of my mother, the youngest of those four children. Oh, the places it went (a bow to the good Dr. Seuss) – Colorado, Kentucky, Colorado again, the state of Washington (where I plucked it from the shelf), and back to California. And then what happened to it? Lost in the shuffle of many a move? I suppose so.
I do own this:
But it’s not quite the same, is it?
I will admit to having serious book envy right now! The Lang Folio books are on my imaginary gift registry for my personal fairy tale anniversaries... Thank you for sharing Steve!
Steve's series, Bekka of Thorns (eight books in the chronicles to date), are available through Wild Child Publishing HERE and should you have need of a tale spinner, Steve can be contacted at: steve AT bekkaofthorns DOT com.
Steve Shilstone is an elderly fellow living on a mountain in California. He has distributed mail, coached baseball, painted pointilist pictures, worked in department store stockrooms, graduated with a degree in Anthropology from UCLA, and written many a tale. His fantasy blog, featuring several flash fairy tales, is HERE.