In my random grabs at the library, I picked up a book called Anook the Snow Princess, by Hans Wilhelm. This story was inspired by Shakespeare’s tale King Lear and while both girls enjoyed the story, it was J’s desire to know more about the story of King Lear and Shakespeare in general that made me realize how marvelous this book truly is.
For those that don’t remember, here is a quick explanation of King Lear as it pertains to this story:
Lear, the aging king of Britain, decides to step down from the throne and divide his kingdom evenly among his three daughters. First, however, he puts his daughters through a test, asking each to tell him how much she loves him. Goneril and Regan, Lear’s older daughters, give their father flattering answers. But Cordelia, Lear’s youngest and favorite daughter, remains silent, saying that she has no words to describe how much she loves her father. Lear flies into a rage and disowns Cordelia.
Anook is a bear version of Cordelia. Anook is one of three sisters. She is a kind bear, but being the smallest, her sisters tended to tease her and make life a little more difficult. She was not one to she never spoke up for herself when they were mean.
When her father decides to “choose the daughter who shows him the most love and loyalty,” one sister plans to sing a song, the other will write a poem, and Anook tries to catch him a fish. She gets the fish, but falls into a hole in the ice and her sisters steal the fish from her and leave her in the hole. The girls pretend the fish is theirs and the king is furious when Anook doesn’t have anything to give him, so he banishes her.
Out on her own, Anook is kind to a young wolf cub and is thanked by the wolf pack by being asked to stay with them. The taught her how to run and hunt and play. Anook and the little wolf club grew stronger as their friendship also grew. One winter, her father’s advisor find her because when her sisters became queens, they threw him out of the palace. Along with her new wolf pack, they rid the castle of her selfish sisters. She rescues her father, he apologizes for his behavior, and live happily ever after.
This is definitely a simplified version of the story, but it’s the most important part of the King Lear story. The message is clear – love doesn’t need to be displayed in large items, big gifts or showy productions, but love is something that is earned over time and displayed on a daily basis.
My daughters did enjoy this book. The full story of King Lear is definitely beyond them, but this is a great way to teach a good lesson and perhaps get them interested in classic stories.