Thursday, January 23, 2020

Only good rewriting

Right now the children are preparing scripts/stories and puppets to retell a fairytale with our shadow box puppet theater. Their final projects should be fun, so stay tuned for that.

Today, with permission, I wanted to share Miriam's first draft as well as the final copy of her story. She originally wrote a rather bland retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, so I challenged her to think of a spin to put on it. We've been talking about Iran a lot, so she decided to move Little Red from the forest of western Europe to the mountains of Iran. She was rather excited to do her first rewrite, but felt a little possessive of it when I edited that version. There were some tears when I gave her my feedback but I reassured her that it was good and because it was good I wanted more of the goodness, so we were trimming away the parts that weren't great and were making great what was already good.

With that knowledge under her belt she went ahead and made some wonderful rewrites.

Here is her first draft:

Little Red Riding Hood

There was once a girl called Little Red Riding Hood. She was called that because of her cape that was as red as blood. Her grandmother had made it for her a while ago.

MOTHER: Little Red! Come here! You must bring this basket of goodies to your grandmother. She is terribly ill, you know.

RED: I know, Mother.

MOTHER: Now, I don't want you talking to any strangers along the way.

RED: Okay, Mother.

And off she went.

*set change to the forest*

RED: La, la, la, la, la!

*cue spooky music*

*Red stops*

WOLF: Hello, Little Red. What have we here?

Red: I'm going to Granny's house to deliver these homemade pasties. La, la, la, la, la, la.

So she continued on her way, but little did she know that the wolf was ahead of her.

*Granny's house*

WOLF: Hey, granny, it's me, Little Red.

GRANNY: Oh, darling! Come on in!

The wolf went in and...ATE GRANNY WHOLE. Then he put Granny's clothes on and waited.

Little Red knocked on the door.

RED: Granny, it's me, Little Red!

WOLF/GRANNY: Oh, darling, come in!

RED: Oh, Granny! What big eyes you have!

WOLF: The better to see you with, my dear.

RED: Oh, Granny! What big ears you have!

WOLF: The better to hear you with, my dear.

RED: Granny! What big teeth you have!

WOLF: The better to EAT YOU WITH!!!

And the wolf ate Red whole.


Luckily her scream was heard by a woodsman who rushed to the rescue, cut open the wolf, and helped Granny and Red out. They all lived happily ever after.

The end

Now, that was a fine retelling of the story. But what Miriam's managed to come up with is simply beautiful. When she got the idea to set her story in Iran she originally set it in Karaj and had a Persian leopard instead of a wolf. But then she decided Karaj was too close to Tehran (and thus too urban) and learned that Persian leopards are endangered and didn't really feel like she should have one be brutally murdered in her story. So she kept searching for the right location and the right foe and eventually (after many rewrites) came up with this tale featuring a girl from the village of Polour and a Syrian brown bear:

Koochick Qermez

Once, in the village of Polour, in the steaming foothills of Mt. Damavand, there was a girl called KOOCHIK QERMEZ. She was called that because of the bright red hijab that her maman had made for her when she was young and which she would wear everyday. She and her mother lived in a small hut with two windows; at one they would watch the sunrise, and at the other they would watch the sunset. In her spare time she picked wildflowers on Damavand, and bathed in the hot springs every Thursday, for Friday prayers.

MOTHER: Koochik Qermez, come here!


MOTHER: Now, Koochik Qermez, I want you to bring this basket of tahdig to your maman. She is awfully ill, you know. I don’t want you to get hurt, so bring this knife just in case you come across the bear that lives on Mt. Damavand.

KOOCHIK QERMEZ: Alright, mother

Maman’s hut was right above the treeline, so it was always chilly. Koochik Qermez bundled up and set off on her hike.

*Change to Mt. Damavand* 

KOOCHIK QERMEZ: la, la, la, la, la!

*Spooky music & scuffling in the trees*
*Out pops BEAR* 

BEAR: Ah, is that saffron I smell?

KOOCHIK QERMEZ: Yes, but you’re not getting any of it. I’m bringing tahdig to my sick maman.

And Koochik Qermez continued on her way. Little did she know that the bear had run ahead to Maman’s hut, and had gotten there first!

*Set change to Maman’s hut*
*BEAR knocks on the door*

BEAR: Maman, it’s me! Koochik Qermez!

MAMAN: Oh, Koochik Qermez, come in! I must see you!

So, the bear went in and ate Maman whole!!! Then, he put on her nightcap and nightgown and waited.

A little while later, he hears a knock.

*Koochik Qermez comes and knocks*

KOOCHIK QERMEZ: Maman, it’s me!

BEAR:  Oh, come in! I must see you Koochik Qermez!

So Koochik Qermez goes in.

KOOCHIK QERMEZ: Oh, Maman! What big eyes you have!

BEAR: All the better to see you with, aziz-am.

KOOCHIK QERMEZ: Maman! You have such a large nose!

BEAR: All the better to smell the wonderful saffron with, aziz-am.

KOOCHIK QERMEZ: You have such big teeth, Maman!



And the bear ate her whole.

But then, in the bear’s stomach she remembered that she had a knife that her mother had given to her. Koochik Qermez dug in her pocket for the blade, finally, she found it,and cut the bear open from the inside. Then she helped Maman out, and they ate the warm tahdig all up. Maman skinned the bear, and wrapped up its meat in thin paper, and sent Koochik Qermez home with a full belly, fur, and meat to last the cold, hard winter. 

*Back to Koochik Qermez’s hut*

When she came home, her mother was overjoyed with all of the meat and fur that Koochik Qermez had brought home. Then, they all lived happily ever after.


Right now she's working on her puppets and I'm excited to see what she comes up with (Benjamin is working with his puppets as well, but has only just finished the first draft of his story).

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