When I was a youngster, I remember reading Mollie Whuppie in one of the many fairytale collections at the public library. I am a fairytale kind of person. Mollie Whuppie is a little short on sparkles and ball gowns and a little long on violence and greed.
I don't know why I like the story so much. It may be the archaic dialog between Mollie and the giant she torments. It might be that Mollie is an unexpected hero - the runt of the family, and a girl to boot.
When I figure it out, I'll let you know. I have to admit, I did not tell the original ending. That ending is a bit too gruesome for my tastes.
Today, I decided to share Mollie Whuppie with the sixth graders at Nazareth Intermediate School. My version has some (ahem) blood in it and there's lots of action. I guessed, correctly, that the guys would like it. What I didn't expect was all the questions the kids had during and after the story. One question that cropped up in three of the four classes was this. "How did the King know what the Giant had and where he kept it?"
Yeah! How did he know that? And why did he keep sending this tiny girl out to steal from the Giant? And why did the parents abandon the three youngest children and not the three oldest children - who might have a better chance of surviving?
And why did Mollie carry the treasures back to the King? Why not keep them for herself?
And why didn't those old time storytellers ask these questions themselves and answer them in the story? (My question.)
Perhaps Kings were such powerful people that listeners at the time thought Kings knew what everyone had and where they kept it. I bet that they felt that way at tax time.
And powerless people always like stories about small powerless people who prevail.
Now, about keeping the loot for herself, Mollie had to protect her sisters who might suffer at the hands of the King if Mollie "cheated" him.
As to abandoning the youngest rather than the oldest, I invite you to offer reasons for that.
In the meantime, these questions make great writing prompts and I imagine a comic book series about The Adventures of Mollie Whuppie. Although there are picture books out there starring Ms. Whuppie, she could be a superhero.
Mollie Whuppie, Unexpected Hero!!!