Let's see: child abandonment, the gluttonous consumption of candy and, of course. a witch.
Hansel and Gretel.
I believe, by the way, and I could be wrong, that their actual names in the story are Hans and Greta. The "el" at the end of their names does not mark them from the House of El as in Superman's came, but actually indicates that they wee very small children as in Little Hans and Little Greta. Strange and useless facts.
Why is i my favorite? because at the end of the day it's got a few great scares, minor and major alike. You have the new step mom (wicked as they come) you have the weak-willed father willing to abandon his children for his new wife.
You have the dark and scary woods, the threat of any kind of animal, the worry of starvation, being lost in the woods, salvation in the form of a house made of candy and, finally, the cannibalistic witch who intend to fatten up and then consume our heroes of the tale.
And you have, oddly enough, one of the rare tales that, in my opinion, actually empowers children. They have to work together to stay safe in the woods. They have to learn the hard way that trails of breadcrumbs suck wind when it comes to salvation in the woods whee any old crate is eating your attempt at a trail.
You have two children who manage to stop the witch and then manage to KILL her before she can kill them.
Depending on the version you even have a dad who changes his mind and chooses his children over the new, sociopathic wife.
Hansel and Gretel are the heroes of their tales. They don't need prince charming to save them. They are clever little kids. I admire them as much as I do Red Riding Hood.
My favorite legend of a fairy, however, is Red Cap. An ogre of some size who haunts money roads, kills people and then dies his cap in their blood.
In both cases, of course, there are cautionary tales as is most often true with proper fairy tales.
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