Bibliographic Information (best version for telling):
Hausman, Gerald & Loretta. “The Troll King and the Butter Cat.” Cats of Myth: Tales from Around the World. New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers 2000.
Scandinavian – more than likely Norwegian as opposed to Danish or Swedish
· Sweet Butter’s love for Mrs. Rumle Grumble is always an undercurrent, subtle but ever-present.
· The tension created by Rumble Grumble always barging in and ruining Christmas.
· Sweet Butter’s craftiness and protectiveness of Olaf and Sonja.
· The wonderful roaring match with Rumble Grumble desparately trying to keep up and eventually losing in disgrace.
· The victory for Sweet Butter – marrying Mrs. Rumble Grumble and having a wonderful, undisturbed life with Sonja and Olaf.
· Rumble Grumble, the Troll King
· Sweet Butter, the Troll turned cat
· Olaf, the farmer
· Sonja, the farmer’s wife
1. Description of Rumble Grumble and Sweet Butter as well as the introduction of the conflict between the two.
2. Sweet Butter turns himself into a cat and goes to live with Sonja and Olaf – a description of Sweet Butter’s life with them.
3. Rumble Grumble visits the farm on Christmas.
4. Next Christmas Eve, Sweet Butter visits the Bear and enlists his help in dispatching Rumble Grumble. Sweet Butter also whispers dreams of friendly bears into Sonja and Olaf’s ears.
5. Rumble Grumble appears on Christmas morning. A roaring match ensues.
6. Conclusion – where are they now?
Rumble Grumble is a nasty troll king who finds out that Sweet Butter, a very nice troll, and Mrs. Rumble Grumble have fallen in love. So Rumble Grumble banishes Sweet Butter to the land of humans. To make the best of it, Sweet Butter turns himself into a cat and lives with Sonja and Olaf. He is very happy there.
One Christmas morning, Rumble Grumble appears on Olaf and Sonja’s doorstep. He gobbles down all the breakfast and ruins Christmas day with his rumbling and grumbling and teasing of Sweet Butter. He relishes the idea of returning next year and so does Sweet Butter, because he has a plan to dispatch Rumble Grumble.
So the year passes and on Christmas Eve, Sweet Butter visits a Bear who agrees to help him with his plan to rid Olaf and Sonja of Rumble Grumble for once and all. The Bear returns to the farmhouse with Sweet Butter. To ensure Olaf and Sonja’s comfort with his plan, Sweet Butter whispers dreams of friendly bears into Olaf and Sonja’s ears as they sleep.
The next morning brings the arrival of Rumble Grumble. He again devours Christmas breakfast and then begins to torment Sweet Butter. Sweet Butter grabs his butter paddle and runs behind the stove to where the Bear is sleeping. He taps the Bear with the paddle and the Bear roars very loudly. Rumble Grumble rises to the challenge; and the roaring match is on. Rumble Grumble loses, however, and retires as Troll King eventually dying of boredom.
The Bear continues to live behind the warm stove and Sweet Butter marries Mrs. Rumble Grumble. He also convinces Mrs. Rumble Grumble to turn herself into a cat as well and they live happily with Sonja and Olaf who are never bothered again by nasty trolls.
· …his voice sounded like coal rumbling down a chute…
· His mossy hair was matted…
· …his breath was odious.
· hot birch tea
· cinnamon fur
· The house was made of logs, hand-hewn by the old farmer…
· …great porcelain stove which … was warm with the baking of caraway seed bread.
· steamed salmon
· sardines on bread
· large, tow-headed cabbage
· thick, buttery cream
· Humans, he thought, were at their best when they laughed.
· …pounds of pancakes, smeared with cloudberry jam.
· He glugged down a pail of fresh milk, and he crunched up a huge rasher of bacon.
· Just the old cat we use to mop the floor.
· He tipped a cream pitcher onto the pine planks and let the cream run into the cracks between the boards.
· windowpanes cracked
· sprucy mountain
· great, yawning den
· small, round ear
· crumbled bits of bacon on his shirtfront
· …greasy troll, who smelled of so many meals, past and present.
· crockery quiver
· …glazed pitchers and saucers exploded…
· Milk jugs blew apart…
· …frozen streams melted and ran the opposite way.
· …sun spun, the day darkened, and the stars glittered and tittered as never before.
· humiliations from feline foes.
· One feline growl will scare them all the way to next Christmas, and to the Christmas after that.
Audience (why is this story appropriate for the audience? developmental characteristics?):
My target audience for this tale is children between the ages of 7 and 11. According to Piaget’s Developmental Stages, children at these ages are developing skills for orderly thinking. They are beginning to understand a framework of chronologically-ordered events. “The Troll King and the Butter Cat” depend on the audience’s ability to follow a chronology of events. Because the story is so wonderfully detailed in its progression of events, it provides more substance and challenge for the child listener. This story has more dimensionality than your average preschool tale, thus providing the 7-11 audience more “meat” to grab onto. Piaget postulates that children of this age love mysteries and puzzles. Therefore this age group would be more likely to gravitate to this type of story due to its more intricate flow of events, its conflict and subsequent resolution due to a secret plan carried out successfully.
Charlotte Huck theorizes that this age group appreciates the imaginary adventure, word play, and slapstick humor. “The Troll King and the Butter Cat” has all of these wonderful qualities. While the story is not an epic journey per se, it is still within the realm of adventure. There is conflict, a plan to overcome conflict, a contest of skills, and meaningful, emotionally-motivated relationships – all components of a true adventure. The Hausman’s telling is rich with imagery and unusual uses of words and descriptions of objects such as “cinnamon fur,” “greasy troll,” and “sprucy mountain.” Rumble Grumble is also a delightful villain with his bad breath and messy eating habits – both things which 7-11 year olds find wildly humorous.
Huck also points out that children between the ages of 10 and 11 are growing in their understanding of social roles and therefore are often concerned with peer acceptance. Rumble Grumble’s banishing of Sweet Butter even though he is obviously the hero provides a wonderful sense of validation for this age group. These children struggle with being accepted and included; therefore witnessing the hero also endure these difficulties and come out on top is very encouraging and hopeful.
Finally, my own personal opinion is that this story is so much fun with so much wonderful imagery and with such a delightfully meaty plot that elementary age children would be able to lose themselves in the story. They would be able to transport themselves into the magical realm of the trolls and cats and enjoy a wonderful adventure with Sweet Butter.
Bibliographic information on other versions/variants (at least two)?
Asala, Joanne. “The Troll Turned Cat.” Trolls Remembering Norway. Iowa City: Penfield Press, 1994. (Norwegian)
Williams-Ellis, Amabel. “The Great White Cat.” Tales from the Enchanted World. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1986. (Norwegian)
Brief comparison of all versions/variants in terms of language, rhythm, "tellability," "flavor," content, etc. Stress the differences in style rather than those of content.
It’s almost as if the Hausman’s have combined the best of both stories into one. “The Troll Turned Cat” is a rather plain, uneventful tale about Rumble Grumble. His wife is indeed in love with another troll; but Rumble Grumble does not banish this troll. This troll decides of his own free will to disappear so as to avoid Rumble Grumble’s anger. He does, in fact, turn himself into a cat and goes to live with a nice family. However this version really has no plot, no true conflict, and no true conflict resolution. The nice troll finds out that Rumble Grumble has died and then he leaves the farmhouse in search of Mrs. Rumble Grumble. So Rumble Grumble and the troll never even interact. The conflict between them is not fleshed out at all. It simply resolves itself with the passing of time and natural occurrence of life and death.
“The Great White Cat” does not involve two trolls pitted against each other. Instead it involves a pack of mischievous trolls who descend upon an unfortunate family each Christmas only to ruin their Christmas dinner. There is no feline in this tale at all. Instead the trolls mistake the large, white bear sleeping behind the stove for a cat. They do, in fact, taunt the great white “cat” as Rumble Grumble taunts the forest cat in the Hausman’s tale. The story is resolved when the bear becomes angry with the trolls and roars at them until they are so scared they leave. Also with this tale as with the Hausman’s, there is a next Christmas. Next Christmas, a troll calls out to the man of the house from his hiding place, asking if he still has that great white cat from last year. The man, of course, answers in the affirmative although the hunter who brought the bear last Christmas has left long ago taking the bear with him.
The Hausman’s tale is a much better version for telling for many reasons. To begin with, the characters in the Hausman’s tale are more dimensional. The Hausman’s provide both physical and personality characteristics for each troll as well as a more detailed history between the two. Because of this, the Hausman’s Rumble Grumble becomes a more formidable foe than Asala’s or Williams-Ellis’ pack of trolls. Conversely, Sweet Butter, becomes a more inspiring hero. Even Olaf and Sonja are more interesting than the humans in the other two tales. Sonja dotes on the butter cat, feeding it wonderful things. Being so fond of Sweet Butter, Olaf and Sonja attempt to deflect Rumble Grumble’s interest in finding the butter cat hiding behind the stove. Because the characters are more real, the listeners become more actively engaged in the plot and have a greater investment in how the conflict will be resolved. Because the listener gets to know Sweet Butter, Olaf, and Sonja better than the characters in the other two tales, they might have more sympathy for them, rooting for Sweet Butter to win the roaring match.
In the Hausman’s version, the conflict isn’t resolved as easily as in the other two giving the tale more complexity and substance. Instead, Sweet Butter must come up with a multi-step plan to get rid of Rumble Grumble. He not only has to solicit the bear’s help but also has to ensure Olaf and Sonja’s comfort with the plan. Then the actual roaring match is carried out with multiple taps of the butter paddle instead of one big roar, thus making the resolution of the contest/conflict harder to obtain. This makes Rumble Grumble’s defeat and Sweet Butter’s victory all the more meaningful.
Lastly, the Hausman’s version has more imagery. You can see the “sprucy mountain” and the “great, yawning den.” You can taste the “pounds of pancakes” with “cloudberry jam.” You can smell the “caraway-seed bread” baking. You can feel the warmth of the “great porcelain stove.” And you can hear the window panes cracking and the floor boards shaking. The rich imagery and the more flavorful characters really create a more enticing world in which to lose yourself.