This short bedtime story with its blend of adventure, magic, and mild elements of deception and trickery, is suitable for children aged around 8 to 12 years.
It contains classic fairy tale themes, such as a quest, magical transformations, and a happy ending, which are engaging for this age group.
The story also involves some complexity in its plot and characters, which can be better appreciated by children in this age range who have developed more advanced comprehension and critical thinking skills.
However, it’s always good to consider the individual child, as some younger children might also enjoy this story, especially if it’s read to them.
In the land of King Cambrinus, there lived a lord known as Tubby, famed not for his deeds but for his size. He spent his days in leisure, indulging in feasts and naps, his only pastime being the aimless shooting of small birds with his bow, at which he was notably unskilled.
His son, Prince Desire, was as slender as his father was stout. Despite being sought after by many, Desire had no interest in the local ladies. He spent his evenings wandering the woods, speaking to the moon, earning the affectionate nickname ‘d’Amour Desire’ from the hopeful ladies.
One evening, as Desire expressed his weariness of the usual rosy-cheeked maidens, fate intervened. A basket of exotic, sun-kissed oranges arrived, a gift from afar, igniting a dream within Desire. That night, he dreamt of a princess with golden skin, hidden within one of these golden fruits.
Come morning, Desire, filled with resolve, announced his quest to his father, who was amidst his morning smoke. “Father,” he said, “I must seek the maiden of my dreams, the one with golden skin.” With a tender farewell, he embarked on his journey, leaving Tubby in ponderous thought.
The quest led Desire through many lands, following the sun to a warmer clime. Eventually, he reached a quaint hut where an old man offered him hospitality and guidance. He spoke of a wood where orange trees bore the fruit of Desire’s dream, guarded by a formidable witch.
Armed with the old man’s wisdom and gifts – oil for a gate, an oatcake for a ferocious dog, and a brush for a weary baker – Desire navigated through the treacherous grounds of the witch’s domain. He skillfully appeased each guardian, finally reaching the coveted grove of oranges.
But his journey was far from over. Anxious to see the princesses within, Desire rode in search of a river or fountain. Overcome by thirst in the scorching sun, he opened two oranges in desperation, only to find and lose two canary princesses, as he could not quench their thirst.
At the brink of despair, under a star-filled sky, Desire finally found water. With trembling hands, he opened the last orange by the riverside. Out flew a canary who transformed into Princess Zizi, a beauty with a golden complexion, upon drinking the water.
Together, they set off towards Tubby’s castle, but not without a twist of fate. While Desire fetched a fitting escort, Zizi, alone and afraid, encountered Titty, a cunning girl raised among bricklayers. Through trickery, Titty turned Zizi back into a canary and took her place to marry Desire.
Upon their return, Desire, though shocked at the sight of Titty, accepted her as his enchanted bride, attributing her appearance to a witch’s curse. However, during the wedding feast, the true Zizi, still a canary, intervened. Tubby, discovering the bird’s enchantment, released Zizi from her feathery form.
The revelation led to a joyous reunion between Desire and Zizi. Titty, exposed and thwarted, faced judgment but was ultimately pardoned at Zizi’s behest.
The kingdom celebrated the union of Desire and Zizi, and from that day forward, the land flourished, and among the fair-haired, blue-eyed citizens, one could spot the descendants of Zizi, marked by their black eyes and golden skin.
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