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Sunday, March 6, 2011



As a mother of two grown sons, a grandmother of three and a former teacher, I can't think of a time that Hans Christian Andersen's stories haven't been in my life--or theirs. In fact, when I was little, I well remember reading his "Tin Soldier," "The Emperor's New Clothes," "The Little Match Girl" and all the rest of his wonderful fairy tales. They stay with me even now and that is the result of the pure magic that Hans Christian Andersen possessed. Not only was he a great story teller but his stories were alive with characters that no one will ever forget.

When I was five I remember my mother taking me to the movies to see "The Red Shoes." All I remembered after seeing it was that it was frightening and the ballerina's red ballet shoes and I had no idea that Andersen wrote it. As a young adult, I viewed this movie over and over: I felt the main character's pain between chosing love or her love for dancing. Her tragic end was understandable for she realized that love was the choice and she was so immersed in that thought of being with her lover that she was oblivious to the rushing train below. Tragic.

And yet, that is what Andersen wanted: He wanted a story that would stay with us forever. Had it ended a different way, it wouldn't be the classic it is today.

Long ago, I found a big article about Andersen in National Geographic; saved it.

And I showed it every year to my second graders for they could not only see what he looked like but the actual photos of where he lived. He had even invented a mirror that in today's world would be like a side mirror on a car: He attached this mirror to the outside of his window. It gave him many views of what was going on down below in the streets below his large apartment. Amazing.

In today's world, Hans Christian Andersen's works still shout out loud for they are pure magic. And magic is so much needed with all of the crisises that keep rearing their heads all over the world. I wish I could have known him. Wish I could have met him and yet, vicariously I have. My only hope is that today's parents, grandparents or friends will take time to introduce Andersen's fairy tales and the movie, "The Red Shoes," to their children. He was way ahead of Harry Potter and Lord of The Rings--he started his stories of magic and heros and heroines long before these two blockbusters apppeared. And he has staying power--isn't that the supreme goal of a great writer?

Sherry Hill

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