As exciting as beginning the new house and the big hurricane were, something I had been waiting for for a long time had happened the spring of 1938. Mr. Walt Disney's movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
had come to Meriden.
My mother had read the true story of Snow White to my brother and me. I couldn't wait to see it in the movies. I thought Mr. Walt Disney was the best artist I had ever seen (I already knew that I wanted to be an artist, too). I loved his cartoons?especially "Silly Symphonies," Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the Three Little Pigs. But now Mr. Walt Disney had done the first ever full-length animated movie?one and a half hours long.
I had been to a lot of movies?more than Buddy, even though he was eight. Because I didn't go to school yet, my mother took me with her to the movies in the afternoons. We both loved movies. My favorite movie stars were Shirley Temple, the little girl with blonde curls who could sing and dance better than anyone, and Miss Mae West. (I called her Miss because she was grown up while Shirley Temple was about my age. We always called grown-ups Miss, Mr., or Mrs.) Miss Mae West was blonde, too, and she could sing. She didn't dance, but she was all shiny and glittery and all she had to do was walk and talk and everyone in the movie theater laughed and laughed.
Mom, Buddy, and I went to see Snow White
on a Saturday. We got in line early at the Capitol Theatre so that we could get good seats. My mom bought the tickets, and as we went into the lobby, music was playing. She bought each of us a box of Mason's Black Crows?little chewy licorice candies (they didn't have popcorn at the movies yet).
We found our seats. The lights went down. First we saw a newsreel (it was all the real things that were going on in the world). After that was the coming attraction about the next movie that would be shown at the Capitol. And finally, with the sound of trumpets, and glittery stars filling the screen, the words I had been waiting for: "Feature Presentation."
A big book appeared on the screen with "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" on the front cover. The book opened. My mother read the words to me quietly: "Once upon a time..."
Music played, and there, in beautiful color, was Snow White, with white doves flying all around her. She was down on her knees, scrubbing the stairs in the Evil Queen's castle. Snow White asked the doves if they wanted to know a secret. They cooed yes. She told them they were standing by a wishing well. Then she sang a song about wishing for her prince to come.
WOW! I was really seeing Snow White
, and it was the best movie I had ever seen.
Then the prince came on the screen and sang to Snow White. The Evil Queen, looking fierce and mean, watched. My brother sank down in his seat.
The Evil Queen went to her Magic Mirror and said the words I knew so well: "Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?" The mirror said it was Snow White, and the Evil Queen looked angrier than ever. Buddy sank down even farther.
But he really freaked out when the Evil Queen ordered the huntsman to take Snow White into the woods to be killed, and the woods looked just like Hemlock Grove. Tree limbs grabbed at Snow White, and yellow eyes stared down at her.
It was scary, and I loved it. But lots of kids didn't, and suddenly I heard crying and screaming all around me, even from Buddy. "I want to go home!" he yelled. "Come on," my mother said, standing up. "Let's go."
"I'm not going," I said. I had waited a long time for Mr. Walt Disney's movie. My mom, who is probably the smartest woman in the world, understood. "All right, Tomie, sit right here and don't move. I'll be in the lobby with your brother." That was fine with me.
Lots of mothers left with their kids. I thought that was a good thing to do if the kids were afraid of the trees. They probably would wet their pants when the Evil Queen made the poisoned apple for Snow White and drank the magic potion to turn herself into the Evil Witch (even I was a little scared when that happened).
Then things about the story started to bother me. Why was the Evil Queen making the poisoned apple now? The true story was different. In that story, before the Evil Queen gave Snow White the apple, she went to the dwarfs' cottage and pulled the laces of Snow White's vest so tight that Snow White couldn't breathe and she fainted. The dwarfs came home just in time to loosen the laces and save her.
Next, the Queen went a second time to visit Snow White with a poison comb, which she stuck in Snow White's hair. Snow White fainted once more, but the dwarfs got back in time to take the comb out and save her again.
time was the poisoned apple.
Maybe Mr. Walt Disney hadn't read the true story, because he used only the apple. I stood up and shouted at the movie screen, "Where are the laces? Where is the comb?"
A lady behind me said, "Hush, little boy! Sit down." I did, and the movie was like the book again until the dwarfs put Snow White into the crystal coffin.
But I knew that Mr. Walt Disney hadn't read the true story carefully enough because he got it all mixed up with "Sleeping Beauty" and had the Prince kiss Snow White, and she woke up. In the true story the Prince carries the coffin to his palace, and on the way the piece of poisoned apple falls out of Snow White's mouth and she wakes up. But this time I didn't yell at the movie screen, in case the lady behind me got mad at me again.
But when "The End" appeared on the screen, boy, was I mad! I couldn't help it. I stood up and hollered, "The story's not over yet. Where's the wedding? Where's the red-hot iron shoes that they put on the Evil Queen so she dances herself to death?"
That was the true end of the true story. Just then my mom came running in, grabbed me, and dragged me out.
"Mr. Walt Disney didn't read the story right," I yelled again.
I never did understand it, and when I went to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
again, with Carol Crane, I warned her that Mr. Walt Disney hadn't read the true story. I didn't yell at the movie screen. But I still wished I could have seen the Evil Queen dancing to death in those red-hot iron shoes!copyright ?1999 by Tomie dePaola. Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons, a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers.All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1999 by Tomie dePaola. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.