Sunday, April 11, 2010


This was my favorite story as a child.

It was a tale about a vain girl who convinced her grandmother to buy her a pair of shiny red shoes rather than sensible black ones for church. The shoes reminded her of dancing shoes and there was nothing that the girl liked more than to dance.

So she bought the sinful shoes, unaware that they were enchanted. Once she wore them all she could do was dance. At first she seemed to enjoy her beautiful dance and abandoned herself to its beauty, but before long the sun started to set and she began to tire.

Even so, she was obliged to dance out of the city and far out into the dark wood. Her feet took her to the open church graveyard where the dead did not dance. For her, there was no peace or rest. She saw an angel who sternly said, “Dance in your red shoes till you are pale and cold, till your skin shrivels up and you are a skeleton! Dance you shall, from door to door and where proud and wicked children live you shall knock, so that they may hear you and fear you! Dance you shall, dance!

The frightened girl wanted mercy. When she came across a woodcutter she begged the man to cut off her feet. He did and the last picture of the book showed the bloodied girl lying under a tree while her feet danced off on their own.

Visitors would come and I would play the sweet little girl asking them to read me a story just to see their faces go pale as they read on. Especially the last page with the slain feet dancing off. It was deliciously gross. Friends would come and I would say, “Do you like red shiny shoes?” And then I would show them the book. (Usually just after showing them a larger-than-life picture of Satan from my Children’s Bible).

Unlike my children's Bible, "The Red Shoes" was not one of the books my mother kept for the sake of posterity. Infact, I had conned my grandmother into buying it for me. Like the girl in the book I loved to dance and of course, may the Lord forgive me, I still adore red shoes. As Hans Christian Anderson says, "There is nothing in the world like a pair of red shoes!"


lilbuttercup said...

You know Robert Helpmann did all teh choreography for that?! :) Love this post a lot- one of my favourite tales as well, Helpmann aside. I replied to you on my post too, so I hope it helps! :)

Robin said...

I suspect that what you loved as much as anything else was the reaction your book got from your friends! You sound like you were a tough little cookie as a kid:-)

Sandy, Sisters of Season said...

Hi Mary, Happy Sunday! This post sounds creepy . .

The Novelist said...

I have a pair of killer red shoes that I have never worn! I bought them because I had to have them, but I have never had an occasion to wear them anywhere! This story makes me think that maybe I will be a little bit wicked and wear them to church this summer. I am quite certain that I will raise a few eyebrows! (The raised eyebrows will probably be more due the fact that the shoes are so out of character for me!)

I laughed when I pictured a little girl horrifying her friends with gory, scary pictures!

Good times my friend!

Purple Cow said...

lilbuttercup - I just saw your response. Thank you so much! I haven't seen the choreographed version...just the book.

Robin - Exactly! I was a horrid child!

Sandy - Yeah, everybody thought the book was creepy (self included) but I just couldn't resist people's reactions to it. "Who wrote this?" They would ask and I'd say "The same person who wrote ugly duckling!"

The Novelist - yeah, I liked to horrify people with my own fears. still love red shoes...always have a pair and they look especially nice with black dresses.

The Master Skill said...

I really don't know this story. I just knew when i read your post. And it's so creepy! God! Hahaha!

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The Master Skill said...

Hey, I just saw my blog, I think you followed the wrong site.

Purple Cow said...

I know, cause the other site did not have a FOLLOW come?

Ro Magnolia said...

This is the funniest blog entry I've read in a while. Particularly found it hilarious that you primed your audience with the picture of Satan and the innocently asked question, "do you like red shoes?" before reading them the story. I suspect we might have been good friends had we known each other as children. If we didn't kill each other, that is. :D