261A: A collection of children’s tales

I remember two books of short stories, a part one and two though I cannot remember any part of the titles. They were hardcover and fairly large, the spines were at least half an inch thick. One was blue and one was yellow, and the books were illustrated in color. The biggest problem I have had in searching for them is that the stories I remember are not ones I have heard anywhere else. It is very possible that they contain well know stories as well, but I cannot be sure. One story has some humble person who needs something from a kingly man. The man likes riddles and makes a riddle something like, you must come back here not on foot or on horseback, not clothed but not naked, and not empty handed or with a gift. A little girl (his daughter I believe) solves this riddle by coming back riding a hare, wearing a fishing net, and holding a bird. I remember a picture of that scene. I think it was actually a second riddle, I don’t remember the first part. Another story I remember less of has a misbehaving boy who takes a deep breath through his mouth and inhales a tiny man (or two possibly). The man or creature talks to him and I cannot remember if he was good or bad but the boy stops misbehaving (possibly yelling too much) in the end.


I cannot remember anything else at the moment. but hopefully you all will have more luck that I have so far.

Thank you!

2 thoughts on “261A: A collection of children’s tales

  1. The first story is “The Wise Little Girl” collected by Alexander Afanasyev, which is a russian version of “The Peasant’s Wise Daughter. It can be found on page 252 of Russian Fairy Tales (part of The Pantheon Fairy Tale and Folklore Library). It is also included in The Virago Book of Fairy Tales edited by Angela Carter, which has a blue cover. There is a Second Virago Book of Fairy Tales, but the cover is red instead of yellow.

    Here is an excerpt from Russian Fairy Tales (the story is identical in the Virago version):
    The tsar listened to this and said: “Since your daughter is so wise, let her appear before me tomorrow morning—and I want her to come neither on foot nor on horseback, neither naked nor dressed, neither with a present nor without a gift.” “Now,” thought the peasant, “even my daughter cannot solve such a difficult riddle; we are lost.” “Grieve not,” his seven-year-old daughter said to him. “Go to the hunters and buy me a live hare and a live quail.” The father bought her a hare and a quail.

    Next morning the seven-year-old girl took off her clothes, donned a net, took the quail in her hand, sat upon the hare, and went to the palace. The tsar met her at the gate. She bowed to him, saying, “Here is a little gift for you, Your Majesty,” and handed him the quail. The tsar stretched out his hand, but the quail shook her wings and—flap, flap!—was gone.

    A similar version of the tale, source unknown:
    In seven days, the little girl appeared, wearing a fishing net, riding a hare, and holding a partridge in her hand. She was neither naked nor dressed, on foot or on horseback. Scowling, the Emperor told her.

    “I said neither bearing gifts nor empty-handed!” At these words, the little girl held out the partridge. The Emperor stretched out his hand to grasp it, but the bird fluttered into the air. The third condition had been fulfilled. In spite of himself, the Emperor could not help admiring the little girl who had so cleverly passed such a test, and in a gentler voice, he said.

    Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wise_Little_Girl

    Russian Fairy Tales by Alexander Afanasyev: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/1032/russian-fairy-tales-by-collected-by-aleksandr-afanasev/9780394730905/

    Virago Book of Fairy Tales: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1202879.The_Virago_Book_of_Fairy_Tales
    Second Virago Book of Fairy Tales: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/420767.The_Second_Virago_Book_of_Fairy_Tales

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