Menu Logo
  • 1
  • All Grimm
    Fairy Tales
  • 2
  • Sorted by
    reading time
  • 3
  • Perfect for reading
The Little Green Ones
Grimm Märchen

The Little Green Ones - Fairy Tale by Hans Christian Andersen

Reading time for children: 5 min

A rose tree drooped in the window. Not so long ago it was green and blooming, but now it looked sickly – something was wrong with it. A regiment of invaders were eating it up; and, by the way, it was a very decent and respectable regiment, dressed in green uniforms. I spoke to one of the invaders. He was only three days old but already a grandfather. Do you know what he said? Well, what he said is all true – he spoke of himself and the rest of the invaders. Listen!

„We’re the strangest regiment of creatures in the world! Our young ones are born in the summertime, for the weather is pleasant then. We’re engaged and have the wedding at once. When it gets cold we lay our eggs, and the little ones are snug and warm. The ant, that wisest of creatures (we have a great deal of respect for him!), studies us and appreciates us.

He doesn’t eat us up all at once; instead, he takes our eggs and lays them out on the ground floor of his and his family’s anthill – stores layer after layer of them, all labeled and numbered, side by side, so that every day a new one may creep out of the egg. Then he keeps us in a stable, pinches our hind legs, and milks us, and then we die. It is really a great pleasure. The ants have the prettiest name for us – little milch cow!

„All creatures who have the common sense that the ant has call us that. It’s only humans who don’t, and that is an insult great enough to embitter all our lives. Couldn’t you write us a protest against it? Couldn’t you put those people in their right place? They look at us so stupidly, look at us with jealous eyes, just because we eat rose leaves, while they eat everything that’s created, everything that is green or grows. Oh, they give us the most despicable, the most distasteful name: I won’t even repeat it! Ugh! It turns my stomach. No, I won’t repeat it – at least not when I’m wearing my uniform, and I am always wearing my uniform!

„I was born on a rose leaf. My whole regiment and I live off the rose tree; but then it lives again in us, who are of a higher order of beings. Humans detest us! They come and kill us with soapsuds – that’s a horrible drink! I seem to smell it even now. It’s dreadful to be washed when you’re born not to be washed. Man, you who look at us with your stupid soapsud eyes, consider what our place in nature is; consider our artistic way of laying eggs and breeding children!

We have been blessed to accomplish and multiply! We are born on the roses and we die in the roses – our whole life is a lovely poem. Don’t call us by that name which you yourself think most despicable and ugly – the name I can’t bear to speak or to repeat! Instead, call us the ants‘ milch cows, the rose-tree regiment, the little green ones!“

And I, the man, stood looking at the tree and at the little green ones – whose name I’ll not mention, for I shouldn’t like to hurt the feelings of a citizen of the rose tree, a large family with eggs and youngsters. And the soapsuds I was going to wash them in, for I had come with soap and water and evil intentions – I’ll blow it to foam and use it for soap bubbles instead. Look at the splendor! Perhaps there’s a fairy tale in each. And the bubble grows so large with radiant colors, looking as if there were a silver pearl lying inside it!

The bubble swayed, and drifted to the door, and burst; but the door sprung wide open, and there was Mother Fairy Tale herself! Yes, now she will tell you better than I can about – I won’t say the name – the little green ones. „Tree lice!“ said Mother Fairy Tale. „You should call things by their right names. If you do not always dare to do so, you should at least be able to do it in a fairy tale!“

Backgrounds to fairy tale „The little green ones“

„The Little Green Ones“ is a lesser-known fairy tale written by Danish author Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen was born on April 2, 1805, in Odense, Denmark, and died on August 4, 1875. He is best known for his extensive collection of fairy tales, which have been translated into more than 125 languages and remain popular worldwide. Many of his stories have been adapted into various forms of media, including films, plays, and ballets.

Andersen’s fairy tales often convey important moral lessons, exploring themes such as love, friendship, kindness, and perseverance. Some of his most famous stories include „The Little Mermaid,“ „The Ugly Duckling,“ „The Emperor’s New Clothes,“ and „The Snow Queen.“ Andersen’s stories are known for their vivid imagination, poignant narratives, and memorable characters.

„The Little Green Ones“ stands out as a unique story within Andersen’s oeuvre, as it directly addresses the reader and engages with the natural world in a more intimate way. This story showcases Andersen’s ability to craft tales that challenge readers to reconsider their perceptions and treat all living creatures with respect and empathy. While it may not be as well-known as some of his other works, „The Little Green Ones“ reflects Andersen’s talent for creating thought-provoking and engaging stories that remain relevant and impactful today.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The little green ones“

„The Little Green Ones“ offers various interpretations that touch on themes such as empathy, the interconnectedness of nature, and the power of language.

Empathy: One of the central themes in this story is empathy, as demonstrated by the narrator’s willingness to listen to the creature’s perspective. By understanding the creature’s pride in their existence and their dislike for the derogatory name, the narrator changes their initial intention of harming them. This encourages readers to approach situations with an open mind and consider the feelings and perspectives of others, even those who may seem insignificant or bothersome.

Interconnectedness of Nature: The story highlights the intricate relationships between different species in nature. While humans may view the creatures as pests, the ants rely on them for sustenance and have a symbiotic relationship with them. This theme emphasizes the importance of understanding and respecting the delicate balance within ecosystems, as each organism plays a crucial role in the larger natural order.

Power of Language: The tale also explores the power of language and names. The creatures are deeply affected by the derogatory name given to them by humans, which devalues their existence and discredits their role in nature. By choosing to call them by a more respectful name, the narrator acknowledges their place in the natural world. This theme serves as a reminder of the impact that language can have on others and the need to choose our words wisely.

The Role of Fairy Tales: The appearance of Mother Fairy Tale at the end of the story emphasizes the importance of using fairy tales as a means of conveying truth and addressing challenging subjects. By stating that one should be able to use the correct names in a fairy tale, she reinforces the idea that these stories can serve as powerful vehicles for communication and understanding, enabling readers to confront and discuss difficult topics in a safe and imaginative space.

Summary of the plot

„The Little Green Ones“ is a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen about a rose tree that is being eaten away by a regiment of tiny green creatures. The narrator speaks to one of these creatures, who reveals that they are proud of their existence and their role in nature, as they are born and die in the roses. They despise the name that humans have given them, which they find despicable and distasteful, and refuse to repeat it.

Instead, the creature explains that ants, who are considered the wisest of creatures, have a more fitting name for them: „little milch cows.“ Ants appreciate their existence, as they take their eggs, store them in layers in their anthills, and allow the creatures to hatch daily. The ants then milk the creatures by pinching their hind legs before they die, which the creature describes as a great pleasure.

The creature requests that the narrator write a protest against the derogatory name humans have given them and asks them to consider their place in nature and their artistic way of laying eggs and breeding children. They insist on being called „the ants‘ milch cows,“ „the rose-tree regiment,“ or „the little green ones.“

As the narrator listens to the creature, they decide not to use the soap and water they had brought to wash them away, as they do not want to hurt the feelings of the creatures and their families. Instead, they blow soap bubbles, and as the bubbles burst, Mother Fairy Tale herself appears. She emphasizes the importance of calling things by their right names, even if it is not always possible to do so, and refers to the creatures as „tree lice,“ stating that one should at least be able to use the correct names in a fairy tale.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
Translations DE, EN, DA, ES, IT,
Readability Index by Björnsson26.6
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index84.2
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level5.1
Gunning Fog Index7.9
Coleman–Liau Index7.5
SMOG Index8.3
Automated Readability Index4.5
Character Count3.699
Letter Count2.810
Sentence Count49
Word Count709
Average Words per Sentence14,47
Words with more than 6 letters86
Percentage of long words12.1%
Number of Syllables905
Average Syllables per Word1,28
Words with three Syllables38
Percentage Words with three Syllables5.4%

Image sources: © Andrea Danti / Shutterstock

Questions, comments or experience reports?

Privacy policy.

The best fairy tales

Copyright © 2024 - All rights reserved | Imprint | Privacy policyPowered by

Keine Internetverbindung

Sie sind nicht mit dem Internet verbunden. Bitte überprüfen Sie Ihre Netzwerkverbindung.

Versuchen Sie Folgendes:

  • 1. Prüfen Sie Ihr Netzwerkkabel, ihren Router oder Ihr Smartphone

  • 2. Aktivieren Sie ihre Mobile Daten -oder WLAN-Verbindung erneut

  • 3. Prüfen Sie das Signal an Ihrem Standort

  • 4. Führen Sie eine Netzwerkdiagnose durch