Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. ‘The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids’ in Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Direct, Inc., p. 135-137.
6 ½ minutes
1) kids’ fear of wolf
2) kids' joy and relief in being rescued by a loved one
Fear, joy, and relief are universal emotions. We all face threats, which can be physical, emotional, or mental, and nothing can compare to the feeling of release and happiness that comes when someone helps you overcome those threats. These emotions may be particularly meaningful to me after my move to Chapel Hill, when I faced mostly imagined fears of the unknown.
· Mommy Goat
· seven kids
· hungry wolf
1) Goat family safe in house, Mommy Goat leaving
2) Wolf approaches three times
3) Wolf under tree with full stomach, house a mess
4) Mommy Goat cutting wolf’s belly and filling with stones
5) Wolf down the well and goats celebrating
Mommy Goat must leave her seven kids one morning to find food in the forest, and warns them about the wolf’s rough voice and black feet. After Mommy Goat has left, Wolf knocks on the door three times, and the kids let him in after he has softened his voice with chalk and whitened his feet with flour. Wolf eats all but the baby kid, and takes a nap outside under a tree. When Mommy Goat returns, she finds the baby kid, and they cut Wolf’s belly open. The kids gather stones, place them in Wolf’s stomach, and Mommy Goat sews him back up. When Wolf wakes up, he wants a drink, but the stones in his stomach pull him into the well. The goats celebrate.
Wolf approaches the goat’s house three times, using approximately the same words to try to get in. This repeated calling provides rhythm and phrasing consistency in the story.
‘The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids’ is appropriate for 3-5 year old children. Several characteristics of this story fall under 3-5 year developmental specifications. According to Erikson, imaginative play is important for children in this age group because it helps them understand the role of people and institutions in society. ‘The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids’ encourages imaginative play through personification of animals. The repetition of the wolf returning to the goat’s house three times fulfills Piaget’s idea that 3-5 year olds need repetition. Huck purports that 3-5 year olds make absolute judgments of right and wrong; this story facilitates this process because of the clear protagonists (goats) and antagonist (wolf). In ‘The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids,’ the main characters face a physical threat of being eaten by the wolf, which falls under the second item in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: safety.
Conover, Chris. Mother Goose and the Sly Fox. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1989.
Crossley-Holland, Kevin. ‘The Wolf and the Seven Little Kids’ in The Fox and the Cat. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1985, pp. 29-34.
Crouch, Marcus. ‘Ivan the Storyteller’ in Ivan. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989, pp.72-75.
The Crossley-Holland version is very similar to the Grimm version, except that it has a more didactic feel. For example, in the Crossley-Holland tale after the miller capitulates to the wolf’s demand that he place flour on the wolf’s paw, the story states ‘yes, people are like that.’ The same events are portrayed in the Grimm story, but without the commentary on human nature. Listeners can conclude characteristics of human nature by themselves, without being told by extraneous commentary.
The Russian variant includes a song, sung by the Mother goat as a signal, which changes the flavor and feel of the tale. In addition, the wolf is not bested by the goats, but instead leads himself to his own demise over a bed of hot coals. As a result, the Russian variant does not include an emphasis on problem-solving or the sense of relief the kids feel when they are rescued by their mother.
In the Dutch variant, the characters are a goose family stolen by a sly fox. The story takes place in a city, and the goslings are taken care of by a mouse. The fox steals the goslings to feed to his own two children, and instead of dying at the end simply runs away from the town. Mother Goose is given a rest from domestic duties at the end of the book. The change of characters and locale result in a completely different feel. The tale is more gentle in that the goslings are just stolen, not eaten, and the fox’s bag is cut open, not his belly. Also, the fox runs away—he does not die.
I selected the Grimm version of ‘The Wolf and the Seven Kids’ because in my mind, it has the power to evoke stronger, raw emotion.