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In the Children’s Room
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In the Children’s Room - Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Reading time for children: 9 min

Father and mother and all the brothers and sisters had gone to the theater. Only little Anna and her grandfather were left at home. „We’ll put on a play, too,“ he said, „and it can start right away.“ – „But we don’t have any theater!“ said little Anna. „And we haven’t anybody to do the acting. My old doll can’t, because she looks dreadful, and my new one mustn’t, because she’d rumple her new dress.“

„You can always find actors if you use what you have,“ said Grandfather. „Now let’s build the theater. We’ll set up a book here, and another there, and one more over there, in a slanting row. Now three on the other side. So, now we have the side wings. The old box lying over there can be the backdrop, and we’ll turn the bottom out. The stage represents a room, everyone can see that. Now we need the actors. Let’s see what we can find in your toy drawer.

First the characters, and then we’ll prepare the play. One holds the other together. This is going to be splendid! Here’s a pipe head, and there an odd glove. They’ll do very well for father and daughter.“ – „But that’s only two characters,“ said little Anna. „Here’s my brother’s old waistcoat – couldn’t that play a part, too?“ – „It’s certainly big enough,“ said Grandfather.

„We’ll make it the lover. There’s nothing in its pockets, and that’s very interesting, for that’s why the course of true love doesn’t run smoothly! And here we have the nutcracker’s boot, with spurs on it. Potz, blitz, mazurka! Look how he can dance and strut! He’ll be the unwelcome suitor, whom the lady doesn’t care for. Now what kind of play do you want? A tragedy? Or a domestic drama?“

„A domestic drama,“ said little Anna. „The others like that sort of play. Do you know one?“ – „I know a hundred!“ said Grandfather. „The most popular ones are from the French, but they’re not good for little girls. Instead, we’ll take one of the prettiest. They’re all about the same inside. Now I’ll shake my bag! Kukkelrum! Brand-new! And now here’s the play, all brand-new! Now listen to the program.“

Then Grandpapa took up a newspaper, and pretended to be reading from it:


A Family Drama in One Act

MR. PIPE HEAD, a father
MR. WAISTCOAT, a lover
MISS GLOVE, a daughter
MR. BOOT, a suitor

„Now we’re ready to start. The curtain rises! But we don’t have any curtain, so it’s up already. All the characters are on the stage, so we see them immediately. Now I speak as Father Pipe Head. He’s angry today. You can see that he’s a colored meerschaum. „Chitchat! Muttering! Poppycock! I’m master of this house! I’m my daughter’s father! Listen to what I have to say! Mr. Boot is a person in whom you can see your face. His upper part is made of morocco, and he has spurs at the bottom. Prattle! Chitchat! He shall have my daughter!“

„Now listen to what the Waistcoat says, little Anna,“ said Grandfather. „He’s speaking now. The Waistcoat has a laydown collar, is very modest, but knows his own value and has a right to speak his mind. ‚I haven’t a spot on me!‘ he says. „Good material ought to be taken into consideration. I’m made of real silk, and have strings on me.“ – „On the wedding day, but not after that. You don’t keep your color in the wash!“ This is Mr. Pipe Head speaking. „But Mr. Boot is watertight, made of strong leather, and yet very delicate. He can creak and clank his spurs, and looks Italian!“

„But they ought to speak in poetry,“ said little Anna. „I’ve heard that’s the nicest way.“ – „Oh, they can do that, too,“ said Grandfather. „And if the public wants it, they’ll do it. Just look at little Miss Glove, pointing her fingers! A glove without a mate. That’s forever my fate! Ah! I can’t get over it! I think my skin will split! Bah! „It was Father Pipe Head who said, „Bah!“

And now Mr. Waistcoat speaks: „Oh, beautiful Glove, You must be my love, Though you’re from Spain. And I’m Holger the Dane!“ When Mr. Boot hears this he kicks up his heels, jingles his spurs, and knocks down three of our side wings. „This is such wonderful fun!“ said little Anna. „Quiet, quiet!“ said Grandfather. „Silent approval will show that you belong to the educated public in the front rows. Now Miss Glove sings her great aria with a break in her voice:

I have no voice, I can crow, but that’s all, Caw, caw-in the lofty hall! „Now comes the really exciting part, little Anna. This is the most important scene in the whole play. Mr. Waistcoat unbuttons himself and addresses his speech to you out front, so that you will applaud. But don’t do it, it’s more refined not to. Hear how his silk cloth rustles. „I am driven to extremities! Take care of yourself! Here’s my plot! You are the pipe head, and I am the good head. Zip! and away you go!“

„Did you see that, little Anna!“ said Grandfather. „That’s a most delightful comic scene. Mr. Waistcoat seized the old Pipe Head and put him into his pocket! There he lies, and Mr. Waistcoat speaks: „Aha, you are in my pocket now, in my deepest pocket! You will never come out unless you promise to unite me to your daughter, Miss Left-hand Glove. I hold out my right hand!“ – „My, that’s awfully pretty!“ said little Anna.

„And now old Pipe Head replies: I’m getting so awfully dizzy! Unlike before, I’m not busy. Gone is my humor, I fear. Never have I felt so queer. Without my stem here I feel so frail. Take me from your pocket without fail, And you shall have my daughter here, To marry and to hold dear. „Is the play over already?“ said little Anna. „Certainly not,“ said Grandfather. „It’s just all over with Mr. Boot. Now the lovers kneel and one of them sings:

Father! and the other: Mr. Pipe Head, do as you oughter, Bless your son and daughter! „They receive his blessing and celebrate their wedding, and all the furniture sings in chorus: Clinks and clanks, A thousand thanks, And now our play is over! „And now we can applaud,“ said Grandfather. „We’ll bring them all out for a curtain call, and the pieces of furniture, too, for they’re made of mahogany.“

„And isn’t our play just as good as the ones you see in a real theater?“ – „Our play is much better!“ said Grandfather. „It’s shorter. The admission was free; and it has passed away the time before our tea!“

Backgrounds to fairy tale „In the Children’s Room“

„In the Children’s Room“ is a fairy tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen, born in 1805 and passed away in 1875, is renowned for his contributions to children’s literature. He is best known for his collection of fairy tales, including classics such as „The Little Mermaid,“ „The Ugly Duckling,“ „The Emperor’s New Clothes,“ and „The Snow Queen.“

Andersen’s fairy tales are deeply rooted in the Danish oral storytelling tradition, but he also incorporated elements from various European cultures and literature, often drawing inspiration from folktales and legends. His stories are characterized by their vivid imagination, rich descriptions, and a blend of humor, tragedy, and moral lessons.

„In the Children’s Room“ is not as widely known as some of Andersen’s other works, but it shares many common elements with his more famous tales. The story showcases his talent for creating engaging narratives using simple, everyday objects and settings, transforming them into imaginative and memorable stories that resonate with both children and adults.

The story was first published in 1855 as a part of the book „Nye Eventyr. Anden Række“ (New Fairy Tales. Second Series) and has since been translated into many languages, reaching audiences worldwide. The tale continues to be enjoyed today for its charming portrayal of the power of imagination, creativity, and the bond between a grandparent and their grandchild.

„In the Children’s Room“ is a lesser-known fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. Like many of his other works, Andersen drew from his own childhood experiences and the Danish culture and society in which he lived. It is possible that Andersen was inspired by the vivid imagination and storytelling he experienced as a child, as well as the importance of play and creativity in children’s development. Additionally, the fairy tale might also reflect some aspects of Danish society at the time, including social hierarchy and the interactions between different classes.

Interpretations to fairy tale „In the Children’s Room“

„In the Children’s Room“ can be interpreted in various ways, touching upon themes of imagination, resourcefulness, creativity, and the importance of spending quality time with loved ones. Some possible interpretations include:

Imagination and creativity: The story highlights the power of imagination and creativity in turning ordinary objects into extraordinary characters and a stage. Anna and her grandfather use their resourcefulness to create an engaging play with what they have at hand, demonstrating that one does not need expensive or fancy materials to create something entertaining and meaningful.

The value of quality time: The story emphasizes the importance of spending quality time with family, especially across generations. Grandfather and Anna bond through the process of creating and performing their play, showing that shared experiences can create lasting memories and connections. Their interaction also highlights the importance of passing down wisdom and knowledge from one generation to the next.

Theater and entertainment: The story provides a commentary on theater and entertainment, suggesting that sometimes simpler, more intimate performances can be more enjoyable and meaningful than large, elaborate productions. Anna and her grandfather’s play may not have had the grandeur of a professional performance, but it brought them closer together and provided them with a unique and memorable experience.

Education and play: The story showcases the importance of learning through play and the role of the older generation in teaching younger ones about various aspects of life, including the arts. Grandfather guides Anna through the process of creating a play, explaining the roles of different characters and the structure of a performance. By doing so, he imparts knowledge about theater and storytelling in a way that is fun and engaging for Anna.

Overall, „In the Children’s Room“ is a heartwarming tale that underscores the power of imagination, the importance of quality time with family, and the joy of learning through play.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „In the Children’s Room“

Over the years, „In the Children’s Room“ by Hans Christian Andersen has inspired a number of adaptations and retellings. Here are a few examples:

Films: The animated film „The Nightingale and the Rose“ (1989), directed by Michael Sporn, features a segment based on Andersen’s tale. In the film, the toys in the children’s room come to life and have a party, similar to the story.

Theater: The play „The Magic Toyshop“ by Angela Carter (1967) takes inspiration from „In the Children’s Room“ as well as other fairy tales. The play follows the story of a young girl who stumbles upon a magical toyshop and meets a variety of enchanted toys.

Children’s books: The children’s book „The Secret Life of Toys“ by Michael Bond (1982) includes a story called „The Magic Lantern,“ which is loosely based on „In the Children’s Room.“ In the story, a group of toys come to life and have a party, but they are interrupted by a burglar who tries to steal them.

Ballet: The ballet „The Steadfast Tin Soldier“ by Hans van Manen (1997) features a scene inspired by „In the Children’s Room.“ In the ballet, a group of toys come to life and dance together, similar to the party scene in the story.

Overall, „In the Children’s Room“ has inspired a range of creative works that have brought the story to new audiences and helped to keep Andersen’s legacy alive.

Summary of the plot

„In the Children’s Room“ is a delightful fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a little girl named Anna and her grandfather, who entertain themselves by putting on a play while the rest of the family is at the theater. Unable to find suitable actors or a stage, they creatively use objects from around the house as their characters, props, and stage.

The characters in their play include Mr. Pipe Head (a pipe head), Miss Glove (a glove), Mr. Waistcoat (a waistcoat), and Mr. Boot (a boot). They decide to perform a domestic drama called „The Pipe Head and the Good Head,“ in which Mr. Pipe Head is Miss Glove’s father and Mr. Waistcoat and Mr. Boot are her suitors. The play begins with Mr. Pipe Head insisting that his daughter should marry Mr. Boot, who is made of fine leather and has spurs. Mr. Waistcoat, however, argues that he is made of real silk and deserves to marry Miss Glove. The characters eventually speak and sing in verse, adding humor and charm to their performance.

In the climax of the play, Mr. Waistcoat cleverly captures Mr. Pipe Head in his pocket, forcing him to agree to the union between Mr. Waistcoat and Miss Glove. The play concludes with a joyful wedding, blessings from Mr. Pipe Head, and a chorus sung by the furniture. Throughout the performance, Grandfather instructs Anna on proper theater etiquette, such as remaining silent during the play and when to applaud. After the play, they both agree that their homemade production was better than a real theater, as it was shorter, free, and successfully passed the time before tea.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
TranslationsEN, ES, NL
Readability Index by Björnsson19.3
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index89.3
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level2.6
Gunning Fog Index4.8
Coleman–Liau Index8.3
SMOG Index7
Automated Readability Index1.5
Character Count6.268
Letter Count4.657
Sentence Count156
Word Count1.138
Average Words per Sentence7,29
Words with more than 6 letters137
Percentage of long words12%
Number of Syllables1.482
Average Syllables per Word1,30
Words with three Syllables66
Percentage Words with three Syllables5.8%
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