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Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Weekly Children’s Book Review: Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales

I have always loved reading fairy tales.  When I was little, I had a book called 50 Famous Fairy Tales, which I read hundreds of times.  Most, if not all, of its stories come from the Grimm Brothers.  The book has all of the old favorites like Cinderella and Snow White, but I also became acquainted with such lesser known stories as Clever Gretel; Six Soldiers of Fortune; and The Spindle, the Shuttle, and the Needle.  I had planned to reread at least part of 50 Famous Fairy Tales for this review, but then I realized that my old book is somewhere at my mother’s house, and I didn’t have a chance to search for it.  Not to worry, though.  I remembered that a few years ago I added Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales to my personal library.  It’s a lot more interesting.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm first published their collection of fairy tales in Germany in 1812 and 1815.  These stories had been handed down for centuries among the people of northern Europe.  Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales, incorporating 211 stories, is unabridged and unfiltered.  For example, in its version of Cinderella, the evil stepsisters cut off parts of their feet as they try to cram them into the slipper and be claimed by the prince.  Rather Grimm, eh?

Then there’s the story of Rapunzel.  Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales pretty much follows the familiar storyline.  The witch discovers that the prince has been visiting Rapunzel in the tower via Rapunzel’s hair ladder.  The witch cuts off Rapunzel’s hair, banishes Rapunzel, and waits for the prince’s next visit.  When the prince climbs the hair ladder this last time, he finds not his beloved, but the mean old witch.  He jumps from the tower and lands on a bed of thorns, which scratch his eyes and blind him.  He wanders aimlessly until – lo and behold – one day he finds Rapunzel.  Her tears heal his eyes so that he can see again, and they live happily ever after.  There’s just one detail in the Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales that I have not found in any other version of Rapunzel.  When the prince comes across Rapunzel, she is living with her twins, a boy and a girl.  Hmmm…sounds like there’s another story behind all of those tower trysts.

Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales also contains some really obscure tales, like Lean Lisa, which is hilarious, and Old Rinkrank (what a great name!).  Some stories even explain how certain things came to be as they are, as in The Straw, the Coal, and the Bean.  The three escape certain death in a kitchen and set out to find their fortune in foreign lands.  When they come to a brook, the straw stretches herself across it so that the other two can cross. The coal gets scared halfway across, stops, and burns the straw in two.  Both fall to their death in the water below.  The bean laughs so hard at all of this that she splits herself open.  A kind tailor passing by sews her up, using black thread.  Therefore, all beans since then have a black seam.

Gore, false imprisonment, illegitimate children, and schadenfreude: great stuff for the kiddies to read.

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