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The Little Folks‘ Presents
Grimm Märchen

The Little Folks‘ Presents - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 8 min

A tailor and a goldsmith were travelling together, and one evening when the sun had sunk behind the mountains, they heard the sound of distant music, which became more and more distinct. It sounded strange, but so pleasant that they forgot all their weariness and stepped quickly onwards. The moon had already arisen when they reached a hill on which they saw a crowd of little men and women, who had taken each other’s hands, and were whirling round in the dance with the greatest pleasure and delight. They sang to it most charmingly, and that was the music which the travellers had heard. In the midst of them sat an old man who was rather taller than the rest. He wore a parti-coloured coat, and his iron-grey beard hung down over his breast. The two remained standing full of astonishment, and watched the dance. The old man made a sign that they should enter, and the little folks willingly opened their circle. The goldsmith, who had a hump, and like all hunchbacks was brave enough, stepped in. The tailor felt a little afraid at first, and held back, but when he saw how merrily all was going, he plucked up his courage, and followed. The circle closed again directly, and the little folks went on singing and dancing with the wildest leaps. The old man, however, took a large knife which hung to his girdle, whetted it, and when it was sufficiently sharpened, he looked round at the strangers. They were terrified, but they had not much time for reflection, for the old man seized the goldsmith and with the greatest speed, shaved the hair of his head clean off, and then the same thing happened to the tailor. But their fear left them when, after he had finished his work, the old man clapped them both on the shoulder in a friendly manner, as much as to say, they had behaved well to let all that be done to them willingly, and without any struggle. He pointed with his finger to a heap of coals which lay at one side, and signified to the travellers by his gestures that they were to fill their pockets with them. Both of them obeyed, although they did not know of what use the coals would be to them, and then they went on their way to seek a shelter for the night. When they had got into the valley, the clock of the neighbouring monastery struck twelve, and the song ceased. In a moment all had vanished, and the hill lay in solitude in the moonlight.

The two travellers found an inn, and covered themselves up on their straw-beds with their coats, but in their weariness forgot to take the coals out of them before doing so. A heavy weight on their limbs awakened them earlier than usual. They felt in the pockets, and could not believe their eyes when they saw that they were not filled with coals, but with pure gold; happily, too, the hair of their heads and beards was there again as thick as ever.

They had now become rich folks, but the goldsmith, who, in accordance with his greedy disposition, had filled his pockets better, was as rich again as the tailor. A greedy man, even if he has much, still wishes to have more, so the goldsmith proposed to the tailor that they should wait another day, and go out again in the evening in order to bring back still greater treasures from the old man on the hill. The tailor refused, and said, „I have enough and am content. Now I shall be a master, and marry my dear object (for so he called his sweetheart), and I am a happy man.“ But he stayed another day to please him. In the evening the goldsmith hung a couple of bags over his shoulders that he might be able to stow away a great deal, and took the road to the hill. He found, as on the night before, the little folks at their singing and dancing, and the old man again shaved him clean, and signed to him to take some coal away with him. He was not slow about sticking as much into his bags as would go, went back quite delighted, and covered himself over with his coat. „Even if the gold does weigh heavily,“ said he, „I will gladly bear that,“ and at last he fell asleep with the sweet anticipation of waking in the morning an enormously rich man.

When he opened his eyes, he got up in haste to examine his pockets, but how amazed he was when he drew nothing out of them but black coals, and that howsoever often he put his hands in them. „The gold I got the night before is still there for me,“ thought he, and went and brought it out, but how shocked he was when he saw that it likewise had again turned into coal. He smote his forehead with his dusty black hand, and then he felt that his whole head was bald and smooth, as was also the place where his beard should have been. But his misfortunes were not yet over. He now remarked for the first time that in addition to the hump on his back, a second, just as large, had grown in front on his breast. Then he recognized the punishment of his greediness, and began to weep aloud. The good tailor, who was wakened by this, comforted the unhappy fellow as well as he could, and said, „Thou hast been my comrade in my travelling time; thou shalt stay with me and share in my wealth.“ He kept his word, but the poor goldsmith was obliged to carry the two humps as long as he lived, and to cover his bald head with a cap.

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Backgrounds to fairy tale „The Little Folks‘ Presents“

„The Little Folks‘ Presents“ is a lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm’s collection, „Kinder- und Hausmärchen“ (Children’s and Household Tales). Like other Grimm fairy tales, „The Little Folks‘ Presents“ is rooted in German folklore and oral tradition.

The Brothers Grimm collected stories like „The Little Folks‘ Presents“ from various sources, including oral traditions, written texts, and personal accounts from friends and acquaintances. Their primary goal was to preserve these stories as part of German cultural heritage and folklore.

„The Little Folks‘ Presents“ (also known as „The Gifts of the Little People“ or „The Dwarfs‘ Gifts“) tells the story of a poor shoemaker who receives unexpected help from little magical creatures called dwarfs. The shoemaker and his wife, struggling to make ends meet, are surprised to find their work completed by the little folks at night, which helps them prosper.

The story has elements of kindness, gratitude, and the power of small acts of generosity. The shoemaker and his wife repay the dwarfs‘ kindness by making clothes for them, and the dwarfs continue to help the couple prosper in return.

This story shares some similarities with another Brothers Grimm tale, „The Elves and the Shoemaker,“ which also involves magical creatures helping a poor shoemaker. Themes of kindness, generosity, and the power of seemingly small acts of kindness are common in these tales.

As a lesser-known story among the Brothers Grimm’s collection, „The Little Folks‘ Presents“ may not have been as widely circulated or adapted as some of their more famous tales. However, its themes and motifs still resonate with readers, demonstrating the timeless appeal and relevance of the fairy tales collected by the Brothers Grimm.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The Little Folks‘ Presents“

„The Little Folks‘ Presents“ is a lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, but it offers several themes and motifs that provide multiple interpretations. Here are some possible interpretations of the story:

Kindness and generosity: A central theme in „The Little Folks‘ Presents“ is the power of kindness and generosity. The dwarfs help the poor shoemaker and his wife by completing their work at night, demonstrating the impact of small acts of kindness. In return, the shoemaker and his wife express their gratitude by making clothes for the dwarfs. This theme emphasizes the importance of giving and receiving help, as well as showing appreciation for the kindness of others.

The power of collaboration: The story illustrates the power of collaboration and working together. The magical creatures‘ assistance enables the shoemaker and his wife to prosper, demonstrating that teamwork can lead to success and improved circumstances. This theme highlights the value of cooperation and unity in overcoming challenges.

The rewards of hard work and perseverance: The shoemaker and his wife are initially struggling to make ends meet, but they continue to work hard and persevere. When they receive help from the dwarfs, their situation improves significantly. This theme suggests that hard work and determination can lead to success and prosperity, especially when combined with the support of others.

The unseen help: The story also explores the idea of unseen or unexpected help. The shoemaker and his wife are unaware of the dwarfs‘ assistance at first, showing that sometimes help can come from unexpected places or in surprising ways. This theme encourages readers to be open to the possibility of receiving support from unlikely sources.

The importance of gratitude: The tale emphasizes the importance of expressing gratitude for the help and kindness of others. The shoemaker and his wife show their appreciation to the dwarfs by making clothes for them, and in return, the dwarfs continue to help the couple prosper. This theme underscores the value of acknowledging and expressing gratitude for the support and generosity of others.

In summary, „The Little Folks‘ Presents“ is a thought-provoking tale that explores themes such as kindness and generosity, the power of collaboration, the rewards of hard work and perseverance, the unseen help, and the importance of gratitude. These themes contribute to the timeless appeal and relevance of the story, making it a valuable addition to the Brothers Grimm’s collection of fairy tales.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The Little Folks“

„The Little Folks‘ Presents“ is a lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm, and as such, it has not been adapted as extensively as some of their more popular stories. However, there have been some adaptations and works that draw inspiration from the story or incorporate its themes:

Children’s books: „The Little Folks‘ Presents“ has been included in various children’s books featuring retellings or adaptations of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm. These versions often use simplified language and illustrations to make the story more accessible to young readers. Some adaptations might also emphasize the moral lessons or themes of the story, such as the power of kindness and generosity.

Fairy tale anthologies: As part of the Brothers Grimm’s collection, „The Little Folks‘ Presents“ has appeared in numerous fairy tale anthologies and compilations, alongside other stories by the Brothers Grimm and other authors. These collections often contain retellings or adaptations of the original stories, sometimes with updated language or additional commentary to provide context and analysis.

Theater and storytelling events: Local and amateur theatre groups or storytelling events occasionally include adaptations of „The Little Folks‘ Presents“ as part of a larger program of fairy tales or Brothers Grimm stories. These performances may use various storytelling techniques to bring the story to life, emphasizing its themes and moral lessons.

Thematic influence: While not a direct adaptation, the themes and motifs found in „The Little Folks‘ Presents“ may have influenced other works, such as novels, films, or television shows that feature stories centered around magical creatures helping humans, acts of kindness, or the importance of gratitude.

Overall, while „The Little Folks‘ Presents“ has not been adapted as widely as some other Brothers Grimm fairy tales, it remains an engaging story with valuable lessons and themes. The tale’s emphasis on the importance of kindness, generosity, and gratitude continues to resonate with readers and inspire various adaptations and works.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The Little Folks‘ Presents“

„The Little Folks‘ Presents“ (also known as „The Elves“ or „The Shoemaker and the Elves“) from Brothers Grimm is a popular and enduring fairy tale that has been adapted into various forms of media over the years. Here are some notable adaptations:

The Elves and the Shoemaker (Disney’s Silly Symphony, 1935) – This animated short film by Disney tells the story of the shoemaker and the elves in a musical format.

The Elves and the Shoemaker (Ballet, 1957) – This ballet adaptation by choreographer Frederick Ashton was first performed by the Royal Ballet in 1957 and has since been performed by many ballet companies around the world.

The Shoemaker and the Elves (TV movie, 1986) – This TV movie adaptation features actors as the shoemaker and his wife, as well as puppets as the elves.

The Shoemaker and the Elves (Children’s book, 2003) – This children’s book adaptation by Gennady Spirin features intricate and detailed illustrations of the shoemaker, his wife, and the elves.

The Elves and the Shoemaker (Musical, 2013) – This musical adaptation by Stephen M. Smyth and Jo Noel-Hartley was first performed in 2013 and features catchy songs and dance numbers.

The Elves and the Shoemaker (Interactive storybook app, 2015) – This interactive storybook app by Nosy Crow allows children to explore the story of the shoemaker and the elves through touch and sound.

The Elf on the Shelf (Children’s book, 2005) – While not a direct adaptation of „The Little Folks‘ Presents,“ this popular children’s book features a similar concept of magical elves who help a family during the holiday season.

These are just a few examples of the many adaptations of „The Little Folks‘ Presents“ that have been created over the years. The enduring popularity of this fairy tale speaks to its universal themes and timeless appeal.

Summary of the plot

„The Little Folks‘ Presents,“ also known as „The Gifts of the Little People“ or „The Dwarfs‘ Gifts,“ is a lesser-known fairy tale from the Brothers Grimm. The story revolves around a poor shoemaker and his wife who receive unexpected help from magical dwarfs, leading to their prosperity. Here’s a summary of the plot:

A poor shoemaker and his wife struggle to make a living, barely able to afford enough leather to make a single pair of shoes. One night, the shoemaker cuts out the leather for the shoes and leaves it on his workbench, planning to finish them the next day. When they wake up the next morning, they find a beautifully crafted pair of shoes on the workbench, which they sell for a good price. This allows them to buy more leather, and the process repeats itself.

Over time, the shoemaker and his wife become more prosperous, and they wonder who is responsible for their good fortune. They decide to stay awake one night to discover who has been helping them. They hide and watch as a group of little magical dwarfs appears, quickly and skillfully crafting the shoes before disappearing.

Realizing that the dwarfs have been responsible for their prosperity, the shoemaker and his wife decide to show their gratitude. They notice that the dwarfs wear ragged clothing, so they decide to make new clothes for them. The couple spends days crafting beautiful garments for the little helpers, and they leave the clothes out on the workbench one night instead of the leather.

The dwarfs return that night and are delighted to find the clothes made especially for them. They dress themselves in the new garments and dance around the workshop in happiness. From that day on, the dwarfs do not return to make shoes, but the shoemaker and his wife continue to prosper, thanks to the help they received from their little friends.

The story of „The Little Folks‘ Presents“ highlights themes of kindness, generosity, and gratitude, emphasizing the importance of repaying the good deeds of others and the power of small acts of kindness.


Backgrounds to fairy tale „The Little Folks‘ Presents“

„The Little Folks‘ Presents“ is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, in their renowned collection titled „Kinder- und Hausmärchen“ (Children’s and Household Tales) first published in 1812. The Brothers Grimm were German academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who gathered and published numerous folktales, many of which have become classic fairy tales enjoyed by generations of readers.

The Brothers Grimm collected these stories as part of their mission to preserve traditional German folklore, which they believed was important for understanding the cultural identity and history of the German-speaking people. They sourced their tales from various contributors, including peasants, friends, and other storytellers. „The Little Folks‘ Presents,“ like many other Grimm fairy tales, contains magical elements, moral lessons, and memorable characters, which have contributed to its enduring popularity.

The story is part of a broader tradition of European folklore that often features supernatural beings such as fairies, elves, and dwarfs. These tales frequently include moral lessons and explore themes such as greed, contentment, and friendship. The Grimm brothers‘ collection, which has been translated into numerous languages and adapted into various forms of media, has played a significant role in popularizing these traditional stories and preserving them for future generations.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The Little Folks‘ Presents“

„The Little Folks‘ Presents“ offers several interpretations and moral lessons. Some of the key themes and interpretations are as follows:

The consequences of greed: The goldsmith’s insatiable desire for wealth leads to his downfall. His greediness not only results in the loss of his newfound fortune but also the addition of a second hump and a bald head. This story teaches readers that giving in to greed can have negative consequences and that one should be content with what they have.

The value of contentment: In contrast to the goldsmith, the tailor is satisfied with the wealth he initially acquires and does not seek more. His contentment and appreciation for his good fortune ultimately lead to a happier life. The story encourages readers to find happiness in what they have and not constantly chase after more.

The power of friendship and compassion: Despite the goldsmith’s flaws, the tailor remains loyal to him, even offering to share his wealth. The tailor’s kindness and compassion demonstrate the importance of helping others in need and maintaining strong friendships.

The supernatural and the unexplained: The story features magical elements, such as the little folks and the transformation of coal into gold. These supernatural aspects serve to captivate the reader’s imagination and add a sense of wonder and mystery to the tale. They may also symbolize the idea that there are forces beyond human comprehension that can influence one’s life.

The consequences of one’s actions: The tale illustrates that actions have consequences, as seen with the goldsmith’s punishment. It teaches readers to be mindful of their choices and understand that they may have to face the consequences of their actions, whether good or bad.

Summary of the plot

„The Little Folks‘ Presents“ is a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm about a tailor and a goldsmith who stumble upon a group of little magical beings dancing and singing one night. Among them is an old man with a long beard, who invites the two men to join the dance. The old man then shaves their heads and instructs them to fill their pockets with coal from a nearby heap.

Upon leaving, the two travelers discover that the coal has turned into gold, and their hair has grown back. The goldsmith, driven by greed, convinces the tailor to stay another day so he can collect more treasure. The tailor, content with his newfound wealth, agrees. That night, the goldsmith returns to the hill, gets shaved again, and fills his bags with coal. However, when he wakes up the next morning, he finds that the coal hasn’t transformed into gold this time, and he has now grown a second hump on his chest.

Realizing his greed has led to this punishment, the goldsmith despairs. The kind-hearted tailor comforts him, promising to share his wealth with his friend. The goldsmith lives the rest of his life with two humps and a bald head, having learned a valuable lesson about the consequences of greed.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
NumberKHM 182
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 503
TranslationsDE, EN, DA, ES, FR, PT, IT, JA, NL, PL, RO, RO, RU, TR, VI, ZH
Readability Index by Björnsson38.8
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index71.7
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level9.7
Gunning Fog Index12.6
Coleman–Liau Index8.6
SMOG Index10.1
Automated Readability Index11
Character Count5.210
Letter Count4.073
Sentence Count38
Word Count984
Average Words per Sentence25,89
Words with more than 6 letters127
Percentage of long words12.9%
Number of Syllables1.266
Average Syllables per Word1,29
Words with three Syllables55
Percentage Words with three Syllables5.6%
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