Regardless of whether you are new to this arena, or regular as the weather, we might look into a story you don't know. (Sometimes I don't know the story until I begin studying...) No copyright infringement is intended, so no stories will be told in depth here. However, these snippets should give you an overview of the story's plot and themes. For more detailed information, visit the links.

Commonly Known Fairy Tales

Alice in Wonderland

Beauty and the Beast (French)

                A merchant with three daughters goes away on a trip. He offers to bring back each girl a gift. The elder two ask for fine clothes and jewels, but the youngest (called Beauty) wants a rose. The merchant’s journey does not go as planned, and he has to return home empty-handed. Lost in the woods, he comes across a castle with a fine rose garden—and a furious beast. The beast imprisons him, but offers to release him in exchange for the daughter who wanted the rose. The merchant does not wish to agree, but Beauty insists on honoring the trade.
                At the castle, Beauty is accorded every courtesy and gift. She has dinner with the beast every evening, at the conclusion of which he proposes marriage. She declines every night. Growing homesick after a time, she asks leave to go to her family for a week. The beast agrees reluctantly. Beauty’s family does everything possible to keep her there, and she almost doesn’t return to the castle in time. She finds the beast near death, waiting for her, and finally tells him she loves him. Instantly, the beast is restored to good health—and a human body. Now that Beauty has freed him of his curse, he is free to be a prince again and marry her.

Cinderella (German)
                A widowed father remarries a woman who favors her own daughters over his little girl. His daughter, Cinderella, is forced to work as a servant in their home. The local king announces three balls in honor of the Prince, inviting every maid in the kingdom. When her family bars her from attending, Cinderella weeps over her mother’s grave. This summons a fairy godmother who provides fine clothes and a carriage for the girl. All magical items will vanish at midnight.
                Cinderella captures the eye of the young Prince, who spends more and more time with her. Each night, in order to return home in time, she must jump into a tree to make her escape. And each night, news of a girl climbing trees sends her father home to make sure Cinderella is sleeping in the kitchen ashes. The third night, she leaves a shoe behind in her haste to flee the castle. The Prince uses this to track her to her home, where her two step-sisters make desperate bids to prove the shoe is theirs. Cinderella and the Prince are wed, at which time the mutilated step-sisters get their eyes pecked out.

Hansel and Gretel

Jack and the Beanstalk 
                 A young farm boy is sent to market with the family cow, with instructions to sell it. Instead, he trades it for magic beans. His widowed mother is very angry that they now have nothing to eat and throws the beans out the window. Overnight, the beans grow to reach the sky. Jack climbs the beanstalk, visits the land of the giants, and steals enough to save his family.
                 Not finished with his thievery, Jack returns multiple times to steal more from the giant's home. Eventually, the giant catches him in the act and chases Jack home. Jack cuts down the beanstalk so that the giant falls from it and dies. Jack tells everyone that the giant killed his father, to justify things with the authorities, and settles himself as a wealthy man using the giant's wealth.

Rapunzel (German--after the Grimms modified it)
                 A young pregnant couple are caught stealing from a witch’s garden one night. The witch offers to trade her herbs for the babe, and they cannot refuse. After the girl is born, the witch leaves for another country and sets up a new single-parent home. She moves her long-haired daughter into a tower and seals the entrance. The only way in or out of the tower is to climb Rapunzel’s hair.
                 A young prince, riding through the forest, hears her singing. He spies on the tower and the witch until he can sneak in and meet Rapunzel. He promises to come every day and bring silk rope to make a ladder for her to escape. They hide the rope under her bed, but are found out one day when Rapunzel spills the beans. The witch cuts off her hair and magically banishes her to a wilderness. When the prince comes that night, the witch is waiting. She pulls him up with Rapunzel’s hair, then pushes him out of the window. The prince is blinded in the fall and spends two years wandering around. He eventually fetches up at Rapunzel’s hut in the wilderness, where she has been raising their twin children by herself. Her tears fall in his eyes, restoring his sight.

Red Riding Hood (German--early French versions stop when the wolf eats Red)
                A young girl known for wearing a favorite red cape is commissioned to take some food to her sick grandmother who lives in the woods. Soon after she sets out, a wolf sees her in the village. He wants to eat her, so he follows her until she is alone in the woods. He approaches her and finds out where she is going and why. He also encourages her to dawdle on her way, picking flowers and wandering off the path. Meanwhile, he takes a shortcut to her grandmother and there eats the old woman.
                When the girl arrives at her grandmother’s house, the wolf is in the grandmother’s bed pretending to be her. The girl and the wolf engage in a conversation where she observes her “grandmother” looks different and he puts aside her worries. This dialogue ends with the wolf drawing the girl within reach and eating her, too. Tired, the wolf takes a nap. A passing woodsman notices the wolf on the grandmother’s property and cuts him open. The girl and the grandmother climb out, fill the wolf’s stomach with rocks, and sew him back up. The wolf cannot carry his new load and soon drowns.

Snow White (German)
                A queen prays for a baby as beautiful as white snow, fresh blood, and ebony wood. The child grows up, a beautiful daughter to a beautiful queen. When the vain queen discovers the child, Snow White, has become a beauty herself, she orders Snow White’s execution. The queen’s huntsman takes pity on Snow White and deceives the queen, leaving Snow White alone in the forest. Snow White is taken in by seven dwarves. When the queen discovers Snow White’s hiding place, she tries three times to kill the girl. She at last succeeds in poisoning Snow White with a magic apple.
                The dwarves build a glass coffin for Snow White’s body. They keep her preserved until a Prince begs to keep the coffin safe. The Prince takes Snow White home and keeps her locked in a safe room. One day, a servant bumps Snow White and a piece of apple falls out of her mouth. She awakes and finds herself in the home of the Prince, so she stays on and marries him. They invite the queen mother to the wedding and force her to dance in red-hot iron shoes until she dies.

Snow White (contemporary)
                A beautiful queen is jealous of her stepdaughter, Snow White. The queen sends Snow White into the forest with her huntsman, who has orders to bring back Snow White’s heart in a box. The huntsman drives Snow White away and brings the queen an animal’s heart, instead. Meanwhile, Snow White finds shelter in the home of seven dwarves who allow her to keep house for them. The queen discovers Snow White’s hiding place and sets out to destroy her. Snow White’s friends try to protect her, but she lets the disguised queen in and eats a poisoned apple.
                The dwarves build a glass coffin for Snow White’s body and place her on display in the forest. When the Prince hears of the beautiful girl in the woods, he comes to find her. He kisses her, and she awakes. (Alternately, he is with the dwarves when they are setting out her body. One dwarf trips, causing the apple to be dislodged from Snow White’s throat. She awakes and is carried off by the Prince.) And they all live happily ever after.

Sleeping Beauty (German)
            A king and queen were finally granted a daughter in their old age. They threw a magnificent party for the child’s christening, but invited only twelve of the thirteen fairies in the land. Each fairy blessed the girl with beauty, virtue, song, and so on. Offended and enraged, the thirteenth fairy “crashed” the ceremony and cursed the child to die by pricking her finger on a spindle on her birthday. The last fairy, who had not yet given a gift, altered the curse to induce a century of sleep, not death.
            All spindles were banished from the land. Yet, on the girl’s birthday, an old woman mysteriously appeared in the castle. The girl found her spinning and, of course, pricked her finger. The princess, the court, every servant, and every creature within the castle walls fell asleep. Within a day, the whole castle was surrounded by a great hedge of thorns. For a hundred years, no one could penetrate the thorns. One day a young prince hears of the enchanted castle. When he arrives, the thorns turn into a path of flowers only he can ride through. Inside, he finds everyone asleep—including the lovely young girl. He kisses her awake, marries her, and they live happily ever after.
The Frog Prince

The Little Mermaid

Not-so-commonly Known Fairy Tales

Gold-tree and Silver-tree (Scottish--commonly linked to Snow White)

                A beautiful queen is jealous of her daughter, Gold-tree. When the king realizes his wife is plotting to kill their daughter, he fakes the daughter’s death and marries her to a prince in a foreign land. The mother is happy until she discovers Gold-tree is alive elsewhere. She visits her daughter and “kills” Gold-tree. Mourning his beautiful wife’s loss, the widowed prince hides Gold-tree’s body rather than bury her.
                The widowed prince remarries after a time, and his second wife discovers the body of Gold-tree hidden in the house. The second wife revives Gold-tree and reunites her with their husband. The prince keeps both of them as wives. When Gold-tree’s mother learns that she still lives, she comes again to kill her. The second wife outsmarts the mother, using the poison meant for Gold-tree. Two wives—one clever, one lovely—suit the prince just fine.

The Ordinary Princess (original tale by M.M. Kaye)
                When Princess Amethyst is blessed by all the fairies, one of them is sensible enough to give her the gift of “ordinariness.” Amy grows up into a happy, energetic girl—who no foolish prince wants to marry. When she learns of a plot to trick someone into marrying her, she runs away from home and finds work as a kitchen maid in a king’s castle. On her half-days off, she and her friend Peregrine sneak into the woods to build a little cabin. Peregrine is very angry when he finds out the snub-nosed kitchen maid is a princess—almost as angry as Amy is when she finds out Peregrine is the king. Seeing the benefits of liking each other, they agree to get married. And they all live extraordinarily ever after.

The Goose Girl (German)
                A widowed queen betroths her daughter to a neighboring kingdom. She packs everything her daughter will need, and gives her three gifts: a handkerchief, a servant, and a talking horse. On their way to the wedding, the princess loses the handkerchief, which was for her protection. The servant notices and overpowers the princess, stealing her clothes and identity. When they arrive at the king’s castle, the servant pretending to be the princess orders the talking horse to be executed.
                The princess is assigned to tend the castle’s geese while the servant attends parties with the prince and prepares for her wedding. The boy tending the geese with the princess goes to the king and complains that the princess isn’t what she seems. The king investigates, and discovers that the servant forced the princess to trade places. He cleans the princess up and presents her to the prince. The king also asks the servant what punishment should be given to a servant who shames her lady and steals her identity. Based on the usurper’s suggestion, the servant is publicly executed with a horse and a barrel full of nails.

The Book of Ruth (Hebrew)
                Ruth, a young woman of Moab, marries into a Jewish family. After her young husband dies, she decides to travel to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law. The mother-in-law objects, but does not prevent her. When they arrive, the villagers remember the mother-in-law, but everyone is taken aback by her bitterness. Ruth sets out to care for her as any penniless widow would—by gleaning leftovers from the harvest. On her first day of work, she encounters the landowner, Boaz, who treats her with kindness and respect. Which Ruth appreciated more before she learned that he was a relative of Naomi’s. 
                Naomi recovers a measure of her joy and decides to take care of Ruth’s future. She sends Ruth by night to where the men are working, with instructions to ask Boaz to marry her. Ruth waits until Boaz is alone to comply. Boaz agrees immediately, but cautions her that the law must be observed. Alas, he cannot be first in line to offer for her. He sends her home with a bridal gift and arranges to meet with the closer kinsman and the village elders that morning. The other cousin refuses to accept Ruth, so Boaz marries her that morning. They make Naomi part of their family, even going so far as to share their firstborn son with her.

The Sparrow's Gift (Japanese, AKA The Tongue-cut Sparrow)
                An old man and woman live near the edge of a wood. The old man has befriended a sparrow, and spends time every day feeding her and talking to her. The old woman complains constantly, criticizing the sparrow for being noisy and greedy. In a fit of spite, the old woman cuts off the poor sparrow’s tongue and drives her away with curses. But she lies to her husband when he comes looking for the sparrow. The old man enters the wood to find the sparrow, who is glad to see him and has grown a new tongue. The sparrow turns out to be a fairy, and she takes the old man to visit her family.
                They press gifts upon him until he accepts the smaller of two boxes. When the old man and his wife open the box, gold spills out. Convinced the bigger box holds more, the old woman marches into the forest to take the bigger box. The fairy kindly keeps her family from attacking the old woman and quickly hands over the heavy box. The old woman cannot wait to get home and opens it by herself. Demons come swarming out and attack her. The old woman finds her husband in the fields and begs him to protect her. The old man points out the demons are attacking only her because she is wicked. Once the evil spirits leave, the old woman sets her house in order and becomes as kind and patient as she had once been selfish and bitter. They treasure both gifts from the fairy.

The Six Swans (German)
                A widowed king remarries to give his seven children a mother. The new queen is a witch who enchants the six boys. The sole daughter escapes, looking for a way to free her brothers. The princess learns that her brothers can be saved if she sews each one a shirt from nettles and does not speak until the task is done. She begins the next morning. One day, the king comes hunting in her part of the woods. She hides in a tree, but he corners her and pesters her to come down. She throws down her shoes, her necklace, her dress, but he will not leave until she comes down to him. The king sets her on his horse, takes her home to his castle, and marries her.
                Now, the king has a mother who does not approve. So a year later, when the silent princess gives birth to the king’s son, the queen mother steals the baby one night and marks the girl’s mouth with blood. The next morning, the princess is accused of witchcraft for eating her child. The king puts her on trial and imprisons her in the dungeon. He sits with her every day and asks her to defend herself, but the princess says nothing. All she does is sew her sixth little shirt. With nothing to say in her defense, the princess is condemned to death at the stake. The day of her execution, she carries the shirts with her to the funeral pyre. When the fire is lit, a flock of swans comes out of the clouds. As they circle the princess at the stake, she throws the shirts over their necks. As the birds turn back into her brothers, she turns to her husband and finally, finally speaks to him: “I did not eat our son. Your mother stole him.”

Sun, Moon, and Talia (Italian--old, longer version of Sleeping Beauty)
            Over a lord’s daughter, Talia, a prophecy is given that a splinter of flax will be her undoing. Despite her father’s best efforts, Talia one day tries to spin flax and gets the destined splinter under a nail. Her father puts her in an empty house in the country, rather than bury her. Some time later, a king passes by and explores the house. When he finds Talia, he falls in love and has two children with her. One of these children sucks on her finger, drawing out the flax splinter, and she awakens. The king promises to take care of her and her children.
            Back at home, the king’s wife suspects his infidelity. She and a servant devise a plan to kill the children and serve them as dinner to her husband. Horrified, the cook hides the children and serves lamb, instead. The king eats the dinner with his wife, unsuspecting. The wife then arranges to trick Talia into becoming the king’s next meal. Talia stalls the queen by offering her very fine clothes and screaming loudly. The king comes to her rescue, executing the queen and her wicked servant. The cook was to join them, but he produces the two children. The king marries Talia and gives the cook a raise.

The Devil's Three Golden Hairs (German)

            A boy is born with the caul around his head, which the midwife prophecies means he will marry a king's daughter. When the local king hears of this, he tries to kill the boy three times. Once by throwing him in the river--where a kind old couple rescue and raise him. Once by making him a messenger carrying orders to kill the messenger--where robbers intervene and forge a letter commanding the boy's marriage to the king's daughter. And once by sending the king's unwanted son-in-law into the forest to collect three golden hairs from the head of the local devil.
            The boy then goes into the dark forest and encounters three problems, each with a deadly riddle to solve. He promises to get answers from the devil he's after, and return with good news for each question. When he finds the devil's house, the devil's mother wants him gone. Cheerful and persistent, the boy tells all his adventures and the riddles he needs to solve. She turns him into an ant and hides him from her son, the devil. She then tricks the devil into answering one of the boy's questions for each hair she plucks from his head. She then sends the boy away with the hairs and the answers, warning him not to come back.
            The boy returns the way he came, sharing the devil's wisdom to each answer. (Two questions were from troubled villages, and one was from a cursed ferryman.) For two answers, he received more gold than he could carry. For the third, only a sad question of who could break such a curse. The boy gave the hairs to the king upon his return, but shared the gold with his new wife.
            When the king asked where the boy got the gold, the boy told him to find the ferryman. The greedy king did so, and unwittingly took over the ferryman's curse. If you can find that forest, and that stream, you may still find that king, rowing that cursed boat.

Silver Hands (German)
                A poor miller in desperate straits is approached by the devil, who offers untold wealth in return for “what stands in the backyard.” The miller agrees, thinking he is trading an apple tree—not his only daughter. The miller’s daughter is furious with her family, and refuses to go along with the deal. Thwarted and enraged, the devil cuts off her hands. She flees into the forest, where hunger and helplessness are her constant companions. She stumbles upon a king’s orchard, with fruit hanging low enough for her to eat off the stem. The king catches her poaching one night. Moved by her story, he marries her and brings her to live with him and the queen mother. He has a pair of silver hands made for her so she can function somewhat.
                A year later, the young couple are preparing for their first child when the king is called off to war. While he is away, the girl gives birth to a healthy boy. The queen mother writes to congratulate the king. The devil intercepts their letters, forging one letter saying the child is a monster and another with instructions to kill mother and child. When the queen receives this letter, she and the girl confer. Rather than let her mother-in-law suffer, Silver Hands insists on taking the baby and fleeing into the woods. When the king comes home to an absent wife and an irate mother, he exposes the forgeries and embarks on a quest to find the girl with the silver hands.
                She, meanwhile, goes deep into the forest until she can run no further. A kind, hard-working family at an inn give her a job and a room for her son. They hide there for several years (four, or seven, depending on the version)—and all the while, her hands grow back. One day, the king comes to their inn, still searching for his handless wife and son. He does not believe the girl when she first tries to introduce herself and their child. She must produce the silver hands she no longer needs before he looks her in the eye. That same day, he joyfully takes his wife and son home.

The Woman at the Well (New Testament)
                Jesus and his disciples take a shortcut through Samaria, where he rests alone beside Jacob’s Well one afternoon. A woman comes to gather water, and she is surprised when he strikes up a conversation. He speaks of mysteries, revealing himself as the Messiah and herself for all her needs and weaknesses. But he does this in such a way that her hunger for fellowship is answered, instead of provoking guilt over her adultery.
                The disciples return from collecting food to find their rabbi speaking to a disgraced Samaritan. Jesus rebukes them, drawing attention away from their ethnic prejudices and towards his goals for his ministry. The woman rushes back to the village, urging the people who ostracize her to come meet the prophet who speaks only truth. The townfolk come to hear a man who knows secrets, but they come away from Jesus' visit proclaiming that they have seen the Messiah for themselves.
The White Snake (German)
                The servant of a famously wise king once let curiosity get the better of him, and he partook of the king’s dinner of white snake. One bite gave him the ability to talk to animals. He uses this ability to help the king and queen, and then the wise king sees the servant’s problem. He leaves the king’s employ to seek his fortune, helping a colony of ants, three fish, and three ravens along the way. Each time, the animals promise to remember and reward him.
                Eventually, he finds a kingdom in want of an heir. This king is holding a deadly competition for his daughter’s hand, and the servant decides to join in. The princess first dumps out five bags of different grains in a yard for him to sort. The ants come to help him. Then she throws her ring into the deep harbor for him to retrieve. The fish find it for him. Then she sends him to the goddess of love’s garden for a golden apple. The ravens finish his journey for him, and meet him back in the princess’s backyard. The servant shares the golden apple with the princess so that they are both filled with love for each other. They wed and rule her father’s kingdom wisely.

The Singing, Soaring Lark

The Juniper Tree

The Twelve Dancing Princesses
                A widowed king possesses twelve unmarried daughters--all of whom sneak out every night to dance until dawn. The king and his court cannot solve the riddle of their escape, so the throne is offered to any man who can unravel the mystery. Anyone may apply as a suitor, but he has a deadline of three days before he is beheaded. Many try and die. 
                A soldier-of-fortune is given good advice and a magic coat to help him win the deadly contest. The royal sisters see no harm in his efforts, so he slips unnoticed into their revelry. He follows them to a hidden exit, parties with unworthy suitors, and valuable vegetation for three nights, before finally unveiling their movements. His victory ends the mystery, and he chooses to wed the eldest sister.
The Snow Queen