Bianca von Bose, 9, has a secret that she can’t wait to share with her teacher and classmates.
“I am going to do show and tell,” said the German girl, talking about her plans to reveal that her great-great-great-great-granduncles were Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, the librarians who wrote “Children’s and Household Tales.”
You probably know this collection of 86 stories as “Grimm’s Fairy Tales.” It was first published 200 years ago last month.
The two brothers collected in one place some of the most famous children’s stories ever, including “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Rapunzel” “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Princess and the Pea.”
“They changed the world of childhood forever,” said Miami University professor Catherine Grimm. (No, she’s not related to the famous writers, but she is an expert on them.)
Today, the stories appear in most of the world’s languages. Movies, television shows, Broadway musicals, ballets, operas and even rap songs have been inspired directly by these fairy tales. (Right now, there are two TV shows — “Once Upon a Time” and “Grimm” — in which characters the Brothers Grimm made famous exist in modern times.)
“I like the princess stories best,” said Bianca, who says she didn’t know that she was related to the fairy-tale family until she was 6 years old.
“My teacher doesn’t even know I’m a Grimm,” said Bianca with a laugh, thinking how surprised her teacher will be at show-and-tell.
“But some of the stories are scary,” Bianca said, pointing to “The Girl With No Hands.”
In fact, the first fairy-tale book was so frightening that many parents did not share the stories with their children, Catherine Grimm said.
So in 1825 the Brothers Grimm published a selection of 50 stories meant just for child readers. This “small edition” of the fairy tales, Catherine Grimm said, “is what most kids know as Grimm fairy tales today.”