{Guest Post} "What Happens When a Disney Princess Fan Meets the Actual Stories They Were Loosely Based Upon?" by Author Kimber Leigh Wheaton

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Kimber Leigh Wheaton is a YA/NA author with a soft spot for sweet romance and is a member of Romance Writers of America. She is married to her soul mate, has a teenage son, and shares her home with three dogs and four cats. No, she doesn’t live on a farm, she just loves animals. Her house is filled with dragons, though she does lament that they are the porcelain, non-flying variety. Kimber Leigh is addicted to romance, videogames, superheroes, villains, and chocolate—not necessarily in that order. (If she has to choose, she’ll take a chocolate covered superhero!) Her debut novel, Shadow Fire, is the first book in The Light Chronicles series. Watch for book two, Stolen Moon, a standalone sequel, coming soon. 

She currently lives in San Antonio, TX but has been somewhat a rolling stone in life, having resided in several different cities and states. Her family enjoys travel, anime & are video game fanatics. Zelda, Fire Emblem & Namco 'Tales of" are some of her favorite franchises. Kimber Leigh is addicted to fairy tales, both the dark and the light. The Brothers Grimm is one of her favorite reads.

Visit Kimber Leigh Wheaton's website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook!

What Happens When a Disney Princess Fan Meets the Actual Stories They Were Loosely Based Upon?

by Kimber Leigh Wheaton

I can't remember my precise age, but I was still young enough to be very innocent and naive--my best guess eight or nine years old. I am and always was a voracious reader, reading well beyond my grade level. A well-meaning relative gave me a copy to The Complete Brothers' Grimm Fairy Tales for my birthday. So what happens when a Disney Princess fan meets the actual stories they were loosely based upon?

Pandemonium, utter mayhem, and complete confusion!

No, not really. Not at first anyway. At the time my favorite Disney Princess movie was Sleeping Beauty. The story Briar Rose is quite tame for the Brothers' Grimm. Sure it wasn't as romantic, and Briar Rose didn't grow up in the forest with three fairies. There was no big battle between the prince and Maleficent in dragon form. So in the end I actually like Disney's version better. In the Disney version, Aurora is awakened by true love's first kiss, while the prince in the Brothers' Grimm version arrives on the last day of Briar Rose's one hundred year sleep. Definitely not as romantic, but it would still be nice to awaken to see a handsome prince.

Disney's Sleeping Beauty
Brothers' Grimm's Briar Rose

Sleeping Beauty is the Winner in My Book!

After Briar Rose I moved onto Cinderella. Nothing could prepare my young mind for the Brother's Grimm version of the story. The stories start out quite similar: Man's wife dies, he marries an awful woman with two terrible daughters. But in Disney's version the man dies, leaving Cinderella alone to be abused my her step-family. In the Brothers' Grimm version the man lives and turns a blind eye to the abuse.

There is no fairy godmother, instead Cinderella plants a tree by her mother's grave and waters it with her tears. This attracted a bird that granted her wishes. The ball is three nights in the Brothers' Grimm version. Each time Cinderella flees before anyone can figure out who she is, though her father suspects it's her. On the final night, the prince spreads pitch all over the ground which traps one of her golden slippers (how on earth did Disney come up with glass?).

Disney creates a funny scene with the step-sisters trying to fit their large feet in the tiny slipper. I'll never forget the first time I read about the mother telling her daughters to cut off parts of their feet to fit in the slipper. The stupid prince rides of with each sister only to have a bird tell him to look at the blood all over the shoe. Only then dies he realize he's been had... twice. Finally the prince gets the right girl. On their wedding day, her step-sisters try to ingratiate themselves with Cinderella, but the birds will have none of it. On the way to the wedding each sister has one eye pecked out by the birds and the other eye pecked out on the way back.

It's a powerful story about karma and how wicked deeds will be punished eventually. I really like this one. Though, even as a child, I couldn't help but wonder how someone could read this story and think, "This'll make a lovely happily ever after movie for little girls."

Disney's Cinderella
Brothers' Grimm Cinderella

Brothers' Grimm wins
Though I do love Disney's pumpkin carriage

So after Cinderella, I was a bit confused by just how different the movie and folktale version were. So I read through the stories I didn't recognize before moving onto Snow White. My favorite Brothers' Grimm story is Fitcher's Bird. This is another of the more macabre stories compiled by the Brothers' Grimm. I love the role the egg plays in this story. The more I read, the more I came to love these darker fairy tales.

I'd like to see a"Disneyfied" version of Fitcher's Bird!

The Brothers' Grimm version of Snow White is rather amusing at times. Both it and the Disney version start the same: evil step-mother (was this supposed to be a message to men not to remarry?) is angry because her magic mirror has deemed Snow White the fairest of all. She sends a huntsman to kill little Snow White, but he can't since she's so fair. I'm not sure why Disney changed the trophy the queen wanted from liver and lungs to her heart. Probably has to do with the heart being the muscle of love or something along those lines.

Snow White flees into the forest and stumbles upon a cottage inhabited by seven dwarves. In the Brothers' Grimm version, it takes the queen a few attempts before she gets her spell right. The first time around she disguises herself as a peddler and laces Snow White into a corset so tightly that she can't breathe. Easy enough fix for the dwarves who cut her out of it. The dwarves warn Snow White not to let anyone in when they're away. Good advice that all children should heed.

So once again the queen shows up, this time with a pretty comb. Snow White of course can't resist and lets the queen in. The moment the comb touches her hair, the poison spreads, rendering her unconscious. Once again the dwarves save her by pulling the comb out. Finally it was the apple that killed poor Snow White, unlike the Disney version where it puts her into a deep sleep. The dwarves, unable to revive her, put her in a glass coffin because they couldn't bear to bury her in the dark ground. No it makes much more sense to put her dead body on display. Eww.

So along comes a prince who upon seeing Snow White's lovely corpse in the glass coffin must have her for his own beloved. Yep, the prince wanted a corpse. In a twist of fate, the men carrying the coffin for the prince stumbled and jarred Snow White's dead body causing the piece of the poisoned apple to fly from her mouth. The prince and Snow White marry. The evil queen shows up as a guest at their wedding. Our wedding couple heats a pair of iron slippers over a hot fire, then forces the queen to wear them and dance until she dies. Lovely.

Disney's Snow White
Brothers' Grimm Snow White

I love the macabre nature of the Brothers' Grimm
The dwarves are just too cute in Disney's version

Much of the folklore compiled by the Brothers' Grimm is cautionary in nature. In some ways it was a manual of do's and dont's when it comes to behavior. If you're a nasty person, you might get your eyes pecked out or be forced to dance in iron slippers until you die. Disney's versions are more 'love conquers all' stories in which the heroes and heroines triumph despite the cheating evil doers. Frankly I'm fond of both versions. The practical, sarcastic side of me loves the macabre stories, while the hopeless romantic loves the Disney HEA stories.

What about you? What is your favorite Disney fairy tale adaptation?
What's your favorite Brothers' Grimm story?

O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Kimber Leigh Wheaton
Release Date: Feb. 24, 2014
Publisher: Astraea Press

Ashlyn – a free-spirited teenager whose peaceful life is shattered when the village elders honor her with a perilous quest to recover a stolen relic. 

Zane – a jaded mercenary, torn by his undeniable desire for Ashlyn and the dark secret that could make her hate him forever. 

Delistaire – a malevolent sorcerer driven by an insatiable lust for power. All three are bound together by an ancient relic supposedly infused with the power of a Goddess. 

Shadow Fire - adventure, passion, secrets, and betrayal 

As Ashlyn and Zane race to stay one step ahead of the evil lurking in the shadows, their passions are ignited and their bond strengthens. But will they find the relic before Delistaire? Or has their entire quest been orchestrated from the very beginning by a madman in pursuit of ultimate power?


  1. Awesome Post. I have yet to read Briair Rose, but hopefully will do a project Disney post on it soon.

    1. I love Sleeping Beauty so much I named one of my dogs Aurora.

  2. The Disney version of Cinderella is more closely based on Charles Perrault's version which predates the written Grimm version.

    1. I haven't read that version. I'll have to go look for it.


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