Why the Sea is Salt.
First sentence: Once upon a time, long, long ago, there were two brothers, the one rich and the other poor.
Premise/plot: This one begins on Christmas Eve. The 'poor' brother begs the 'rich' brother for food. The rich brother begrudgingly gives him a ham--not a ham to eat, but a ham to sell. This is implied, I think. The rich man told the brother to take the ham to 'Dead Man's Hall.' On his way, the poor brother meets an old man. The old man gives advice. EVERYONE will want to buy the ham, but only agree to sell if if you can get the hand-mill behind the door. That is some very specific advice. But it's advice the poor man is willing to take. He returns to the old man--whom we now learn is an old woodcutter--and he teaches the poor man how to use the hand-mill. This is the most important aspect of the story--how to properly use the magical hand-mill.
The poor man's life changes with the hand-mill in his life. And the rich brother gets jealous. He NEEDS the hand-mill. It changes hands--for money. But the rich brother doesn't ask for instructions--and regrets it! The hand-mill changes hands again--for money. The poor brother gets paid to take it back!
The hand-mill changes hands one more time...this time to a skipper. Again the instructions are not passed along. We're told that the skipper is afraid the poor man would change his mind and so he rushed away to his boat. This time the hand-mill is asked to grind SALT. But with no instructions on how to stop it...well...you can see why the sea is salt.
My thoughts: What a super-fun story. If I have read this one before, I've completely forgotten it. I have read stories like it. I seem to remember a magical pot or kettle? Anyway, I'd recommend this one!
The Master Cat; or, Puss in Boots
First sentence: There was a miller who left no more estate to the three sons he had than his mill, his ass, and his cat.
Premise/plot: The youngest son is upset that his legacy is a cat. He thinks that the other brothers are better off. But is that true?! No, not really. The cat is a talking cat. And he wants to be a well-dressed cat at that. If he trusts this cat, then his fortunes might change completely. And with very little effort on his part.
The Cat, who heard all this, but made as if he did not, said to him with a grave and serious air: "Do not thus afflict yourself, my good master. You have nothing else to do but to give me a bag and get a pair of boots made for me that I may scamper through the dirt and the brambles, and you shall see that you have not so bad a portion in me as you imagine."
Monsieur Puss came at last to a stately castle, the master of which was an ogre, the richest had ever been known; for all the lands which the King had then gone over belonged to this castle.My thoughts: I enjoyed this one too!
"I have been assured," said the Cat, "that you have the gift of being able to change yourself into all sorts of creatures you have a mind to; you can, for example, transform yourself into a lion, or elephant, and the like."
"That is true," answered the ogre very briskly; "and to convince you, you shall see me now become a lion." Puss was so sadly terrified at the sight of a lion so near him that he immediately got into the gutter, not without abundance of trouble and danger, because of his boots, which were of no use at all to him in walking upon the tiles. A little while after, when Puss saw that the ogre had resumed his natural form, he came down, and owned he had been very much frightened.
"I have been, moreover, informed," said the Cat, "but I know not how to believe it, that you have also the power to take on you the shape of the smallest animals; for example, to change yourself into a rat or a mouse; but I must own to you I take this to be impossible."
"Impossible!" cried the ogre; "you shall see that presently." And at the same time he changed himself into a mouse, and began to run about the floor. Puss no sooner perceived this but he fell upon him and ate him up.
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews