Friday, February 10, 2012

Prince Crab- a Venetian Folk Tale retold by Laura Cecil

I do not have time to type out this whole story, so I will give a recap and refer interested parties to the children's book A Thousand Yards of Sea: A Collection of Sea Stories and Poems complied by Laura Cecil with pictures by Emma Chichester Clark.

The story in a nutshell:

A sweet princess sees a huge, helpless crab about to be sold to the castle cook.  She feels compassion and gets her dad, the king, to buy the giant crab for her.  She puts the crab into the pond.  Every day she hangs out there, playing with the crab.
Except for several hours every day, the crab goes missing.  
The mystery of what the crab does when it goes missing gets the best of the princess.  One day while straining to peer into the depths of the pond to find out where the crab hides,she falls in.  She sees a passageway that she swims through.  It leads to a hidden kingdom, where she crawls out into a palace.
In the place where the crab goes when he is missing, he is not a crab anymore.  The crab shell opens to reveal a young prince trapped inside.  He climbs out at the command of the ruler of this palace, a witch.
The witch who runs this hidden palace has placed a spell on the prince, a spell that causes him to hide inside this crab shell for the rest of his life. He only comes out for the hours a day he spends in the witch's domain.  He explains that the witch wants him all to herself, that's why he has to hide in the crab shell forever.

I won't tell you how the story ends, but I find it fascinating how old folk tales have such hidden meaning.  My prince lives in a crab shell too.  His mother (the witch) forced him into it back when he was under her authority, in her castle.  Now he is "free" from the castle but not free from his mother (the witch)'s spell.

The princess wants to help the prince get free.  I want my prince to climb out of his shell once and for all.

The prince disappears, goes missing, for no apparent reason to a place the princess can't see.  My prince disappears emotionally, goes missing for no apparent reason, to a place inside himself that I can't see.

The witch is the one who keeps the prince locked in his crab shell, even when he is no longer living under her roof.  My husband is still locked away emotionally in the isolation his family of origin forced on him, even though he no longer lives under their roof.

Alas, my insight into how this folk tale mirrors my marriage fails at that point.  The princess is able to break the spell and help her prince escape in the story.  I am not sure I am able to help my prince escape.  Perhaps when I have figured out how the rest of the story will be meaningful to me too.

Anyway, I love children's literature, so I share this with you.  If you want to buy the book for a child in your life, or the child within, here is a link on Amazon:
A Thousand Yards of Sea by Laura Cecil

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