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I generally peruse Barnes & Noble in aimless crisscrossing paths. Sure, there are some sections that I tend to sink into longer than others – YA novels, classics, science fiction, cooking, and mythology.

I especially love fairy tales, legends, and myths. There’s such a deep tradition of storytelling in them. It’s real and raw. They’re stories in their most basic form – the origin of much of our modern day literature.

In a selection from Andrew Lang’s The Blue Fairy Book, I discovered one of my favorite fairy tales, often known as “East of the Sun and West of the Moon.”

It follows a girl who is taken by a white bear to a palace, but she is unhappy and worries about her family. By night, another person comes and sleeps next to her – with just the sound of his gentle breathing and the rise of covers as he sleeps.

Before the realization of its inclusion among the common fairy tales (that apparently every writer knew by heart excepting me), I thought it was odd that some of the books I was reading followed such similar story lines.

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George uses the tale known as “East of the Sun and West of the Moon” in the story about a woodcutter’s daughter traveling with the bear to his castle.

The romance between the girl and bear develops tenderly with an echo to the old and well-loved tale of “Beauty & the Beast.” Alongside my transfixed fascination with dragons is a sense of thrill when white polar bears take the stage.

The Golden Compass, a movie based on Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” book series, involves these strong beasts fitted with armor and pained but wise eyes.

Another book that follows along the “East of the Sun and West of the Moon” fairy tale is Ice by Sarah Beth Durst. This version takes a spin on the original tale with the main character as the daughter of the girl who is taken by the bear.

What other versions of the fairy tale have you read? Send me a couple you’ve found in the comments below.

 
 
I finished Rilla of Ingleside, and now I’m reading Chronicles of Avonlea – the final book of the series! Sadly, Anne herself doesn’t show up very often, but I’ve come to enjoy the short tales involving the people of Avonlea.

After reading halfway through the book, however, I noticed that many of the stories involved the theme of growing old, especially the bitterness and pride of old age.

Was Lucy experiencing the ravages of time as she wrote these stories? In the back of my copy of her book, the publisher included a page titled “About the Author” including a paragraph about Lucy’s life and career as an author.

I noticed that she passed away in 1942. On the copyright page at the front of Chronicles of Avonlea, it says that the first Canadian edition was published in September of 1943 (Happy 72nd Anniversary, dear Lucy!).

That means that the book was published after her death. The copyright page duly takes notice of this fact with the small text at the top stating that the book was “published by arrangement with the author’s estate.”

L. M. Montgomery only lived to be about 68 years old, but she must have used her increasing old age in these tales about the lives of the Avonlea folk she loved so much.

The stories about elderly ladies practically ripped my heart out, though. Old Lady Lloyd’s trek through the rain coming back from visiting her wretched cousin made me sick to my stomach – an elderly lady walking alone in the cold downpour!

Aunty Nan in the story about little Joscelyn was painful as well (though not quite as painful as the terribly sad Old Lady Lloyd story). With Aunty Nan and Joscelyn, the reader didn’t have to wait quite so long for the loving little girl to come to the bedside of the elderly lady.

How do you peer forward into or daily encounter the elderly stage of life? Leave us a comment below – perhaps about how you worry about becoming prideful or how you wish to love others like the ladies in these stories.