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CONCERNING THESE STORIES
The longer stories in this book are called Fairy Stories, because
that is the name by which such tales are always known to children;
and yet only a very few contain any direct reference to fairies.
The most of them have to do with talking animals and with strange
incidents and transformations such as have always delighted the childish fancy.
They have been drawn from a variety of sources;
and liberty has been taken to make such changes in the narratives
as seemed most necessary to adapt them to the understanding
and needs of the children of our own time and country.
Free renderings, they may be called, of some of the most popular folktales
of foreign lands. The Three Bears, Tom Thumb, Jack and the Beanstalk,
and Tom Tit Tot are old English favorites dressed in modern garb;
Little Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots, Princet and the Golden Blackbird,
and Drakesbill and his Friends are variants of the well-known French versions
by Perrault, Marelles, and Sebillot;
Little Tuppen and The Three Goats named Bruse are from Norwegian sources;
and the rest are founded upon German originals.
In the retelling of these tales care has been taken to avoid
whatever might distress the most sensitive child as well as everything
that could give a wrong bias to his moral nature or distort his perception
of the beautiful and the true. The language, although not childish in form,
is so adapted to the comprehension of young children,
that the stories may be read by them without difficulty—affording
a greater pleasure, it is hoped, than any that could be derived from the mere
hearing of them from the lips of others.
Most of the shorter stories, or Fables, are derived from the collection
usually ascribed to Æsop, but of which Æsop was in nowise the author.
An effort has been made to give them, in each instance,
a form which is attractive to young readers and understandable by them.
In the case of The Ant and the Cricket, the well-known popular poem
is repeated with but slight variations. In none of these Fables has the editor
altered the generally accepted order of the narrative,
or changed the purport of the lesson intended to be taught.