A classic fairytale from:
Core Knowledge Foundation
& Free Kids Books
Once upon a time there lived a king and queen who for many
years were very sad because they had no child. At last a little
daughter was born to them, and the king was so happy that he
planned a great feast in the palace, to which he would invite all
of his friends and relatives.
Now in his country there were thirteen fairies. Of course the king
wished to invite all of the fairies to the feast too, so that each
might look kindly upon his child, and perhaps give the baby a
special fairy gift.
The feast was held, and what a wonderful celebration it was. As
it drew to an end, the fairies came forward to give the child their
One said to the child, “I give you the gift of virtue, so that you
may be good.” Another said, “I give you the gift of wisdom, so
that you may be wise.” A third fairy gave the child the gift of
beauty. A fourth gave her riches.
But as the king had only twelve gold plates for the fairies to eat
from, it was decided that one fairy had to be left out.
Eleven of the fairies had given their gifts, and the twelfth was
just about to speak when suddenly, in came the thirteenth fairy—
the one who had been left out.
She was very angry, and she cried out in a loud voice, “When the
princess is fifteen years of age, she shall prick herself with a
spindle and die!”
And on it went, with each fairy giving everything in the world
that one could wish for.
Without another word, the angry fairy left the hall. Everyone
was terrified at what she had said.
Then the twelfth fairy came forward and said, “I cannot undo the
evil spell, but I can soften it. Here, then, is my gift to the child.
The princess shall not die, but she will fall into a deep sleep for a
The king was determined to protect his child. “Surely,” he said,
“my daughter cannot prick herself with a spindle if she never
sees one.” So he gave an order that every spindle in the kingdom
should be burned.
The princess grew up, and all the fairies’ gifts to the child were
plain to see: she was good, wise, kind, and beautiful. Everyone
who saw her loved her.
On the day that she turned fifteen, the king and queen were away from the palace. The princess was left on her own, and she wandered about the palace, looking into all sorts of places, and peeking into rooms that she had never explored before. She climbed a narrow winding stair that led to a little door with a rusty key sticking out of the lock.
She turned the key, and the door opened, and there in a little
room sat an old woman with a spinning wheel, busily spinning
“Good day,” said the princess, entering the room. “What are you doing?” she asked, for she had never seen a spinning wheel before. “I am spinning,” said the old woman.
The princess stretched forth her hand and asked, “What is this thing that spins around so merrily?” But hardly had she spoken when she pricked her finger on the spinning wheel’s spindle, and
in that very moment she fell into a deep sleep.
At the same time, sleep fell upon everyone in the palace.
The king and queen, who had just come home and were in the
great hall, fell fast asleep.
The horses in their stalls, the dogs in the yard, the pigeons on the roof, and the flies on the wall—all fell asleep. Even the fire in the hearth* went out, the wind stopped, and not a leaf fell from the trees.
* A hearth is the bottom of a fireplace, where the wood is put.
In time, a hedge of thorns began to grow around the castle, which grew thicker and higher every year, until at last nothing could be seen of the castle, not even the flags on the highest
As the years passed, stories spread throughout the land of a beautiful princess sleeping behind a wall of thorns.
Many a young prince came, but none could break through the thorns. But at long last, after many, many years, there came into the country a king’s son who heard an old man tell that there was a castle standing behind the hedge of thorns, and that a beautiful enchanted princess lay sleeping there.
The prince said, “I shall make my way through and see the lovely princess.” The old man warned him that many had tried and failed, but the prince would not listen.
For now the hundred years were at an end, and the day had come for the sleeping princess to be awakened. When the prince drew near the hedge of thorns, it changed into a hedge of
beautiful flowers, which bent aside to let him pass.
When he reached the castle yard, he saw the horses and dogs lying asleep, and on the roof the pigeons were sitting with their heads under their wings. As he entered the castle and climbed
the steps, the prince saw everyone still asleep—the king, the queen, the cook, the maids, everyone. All was so quiet that he could hear his own breathing.
At last the prince went up the narrow winding stair and came to the room where the princess was sleeping. When he saw her looking so lovely in her sleep, he could not turn his eyes away.
He bent down and kissed her, and she opened her eyes and smiled at him.
At last the wedding of the prince and princess was held with
great feasting and rejoicing, and they lived happily together for
the rest of their days.
-THE END -
Together they went down the stairs, and they saw the king and queen waking up, and all the people in the castle waking up and looking at each other in great surprise. The horses in the yard got up and shook themselves. The dogs sprang up and wagged their tails. The pigeons on the roof few into the fields. The fies on the wall buzzed and crept a little farther. Even the kitchen fire leapt up and blazed.