It started out innocently enough: reading a book on my phone through the Kindle app. Once we’d finished that book, the Kindle app suggested we might like to read a Little Golden Books version of “Frozen”. I was hesitant because G rated or not, it’s a Disney story. There’s bound to be a frighteningly animated villain, or a sweet animal biting the dust, or both.
I’d been harboring trace amounts of guilt for letting the “Frozen” train come and go without jumping on board, so I bit the bullet, bought it and we read it. I was happy that there was only one page devoted to some sort of snow monster, and it seemed pretty glossed over and harmless. Booyah! Pop-culture indoctrination complete, peer brotherhood level 3 achieved, +10 cool mommy points.
“Read this one, Mommy”, Kidday said as he pointed to “Sleeping Beauty” in a new list of suggested books. I paused. I knew better than to read him “Sleeping Beauty”. It’s always been my favorite classic Disney animated film, but it’s intense and again: Disney. Villain. Frighteningly animated. “Noooo… not that one, honey — let’s find another.” When he requested again though, I relented. After all, Little Golden Books had handled “Frozen” so well, I figured they’d handle “Sleeping Beauty” just as gracefully.
Well, I was wrong. First, we came upon Maleficent’s curse that Princess Aurora would die (literally the word used in the book), the baby princess is whisked away from her parents, teenage Aurora is bullied by Maleficent into touching the spindle whereupon she falls into a deep sleep and finally, the book’s climax: Maleficent turning herself into a dragon that’s killed when Prince Phillip throws his sword into her heart.
I sugar coated, rainbow dusted and unicorned the hell out of the remaining happily ever after parts of the story as I read them, and Kidday seemed no worse for wear, but here’s what I imagine the story to look like for a kid:
The next morning as I’m lying in bed, Kidday shuffles into the room crying and I ask him what’s wrong. “Um… well… Mommy? I’m sad because… um… the sword went into the dragon’s heart and killed it!”
Goddammit, I silently sigh in my head. My husband pops his head into the room to add his usual sage contribution to the pseudo-crisis: “He’s crying because of you, you know”, then ducks back out. After giving him a psychic bitch-slap, I tell Kidday that I’ll “explain everything” after I get out of bed and that he should go eat breakfast.
As I put on my robe, an alternate ending to “Sleeping Beauty” begins to form in my head. I walk into the kitchen and over to Kidday eating cereal at the table. “Honey, you know… that was the short story of ‘Sleeping Beauty’. In the long story, they tell you what really happens to the dragon after the sword goes into its heart.”
“You see, the Dragon was actually under an evil spell too! So, when Prince Phillip throws his sword into the dragon’s heart, it breaks the spell. The dragon falls down into the cave and as it falls, it turns into 100 pink butterflies that fly back up to the kingdom and turn into a beautiful Butterfly Queen! So, you see? It’s really a happy thing!”
“But Mommy, the sword goes into the dragon’s heart! And the dragon dies!” fresh tears well up in his eyes and really, while it makes my job harder, I do sympathize with the kid. Maleficent is my favorite villain and I always felt bad for her.
“The dragon doesn’t really die though — it turns into the Butterfly Queen! And she’s so very happy and she thanks Prince Phillip and Sleeping Beauty for breaking the evil spell.” Kidday finally accepts my pathetic alternate ending, I kick myself again for having read the story to him in the first place, and I give my husband another psychic bitch-slap for good measure.
“Sleeping Beauty” Alternate Ending
Without further ado, I present to you the final two images for the alternate ending of “Sleeping Beauty”. Please feel free to print these and tape them to the end of any copies of the story you may have. Save your children… save yourselves.