Ania Danylo Castle

Children and Stories

Ania Danylo Sunset

When I was a little girl I fell in love with stories, all kinds of stories. Anything and everything, from standard Grimm’s fairytales like Hansel and Gretel, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White, and the Red Rose, The Three Little Pigs, all the way to “The House That Jack Built” and classics like “Alice in Wonderland”, and “Nancy Drew”. I loved stories.

I also loved holding my breath. After I learned to tell time I would spend a rather unusual amount of time by myself seeing how long I could hold my breath. I came pretty close to 2 minutes eventually. It wasn’t much of a usable skill as a child, but as I grew up and became an actor, as well as a speech and singing instructor, it actually came in quite handy. As did the art of "storytelling".

Stories were amazing to me. When I was very young, before I could really read, my next-door neighbor who was my daytime Nanny, was British and would read to me from her very big book of Grimm's Fairy Tales. I loved hearing those stories which she read with her wonderfully elegant British accent. I could look at the pictures over and over again.

Both my parents worked long hours (they ran a barbershop and hair salon together). So, by the time we had our 7 or 8 pm dinner, there wasn’t a lot of extra time for "story time". However, sometimes my mother would read me bedtime stories while tickling the palm of my hands. She was rather adept at holding the book with one hand and turning pages while tickling my palms with the other hand. Those moments were very precious to me, perhaps more now that I have been a grown-up for a long time and they have both passed on.

I remember one particular book that I treasured and loved for years. I think I got it as a gift when I was about 3 years old.

I don’t remember what the name of it was, who wrote it, or even what it was actually about. BUT I remember LOVING it!

It was a slightly oversized book, in full color (of course,) with a gloss cover. I stared at that cover for countless hours,

I’m sure. Probably holding my breath while looking at it.

The picture is still embedded in my mind some 40 plus years later. There was a very young girl, probably 5 years old sitting on the lawn in front of a castle. I presume she was a young princess, but she was dressed very ordinarily, in a blue and white little dress. She had beautiful long flowing golden blond hair that shimmered on the glossy cover. Beside her sat a tiny bunny. The most adorable little round bunny with a little patch on his nose that made it look crooked. It wasn’t crooked, but the color patch made it look as if it was. And the little girl was feeding him a big bright red juicy strawberry. Their eyes were locked on each other as if they were the best of friends. She had the most beautiful gentle smile across her face. The bunny looked completely in love with her. Oh, how I loved that picture and the book. To this day, I cannot think about the picture with a great big magical smile across my face that I cannot seem to wipe away quickly.

That book had a great influence on me. Very quietly in the back of my mind, I always wanted to be that little princess girl. Many years later into my grown-up life, I happened into a pet store. I already had one beautiful cat named Zoey and a rabbit named Pippin. I was picking up some pet food. So, naturally, I was also checking out the cats and rabbits in the store. 

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And there she was; a little round bunny all black with one little squiggle of white on her nose that made it look crooked.  It wasn’t, but it did look crooked. Right then and there I fell in love all over again. I thought about the book, laughed out loud, and went home with my new little friend Baby Bear. I also bought some strawberries to share with both my lovely bunnies. Zoey had tuna fish.

Stories are magical and last us through our lives!

Especially the children's stories we find when we are very young