South to introduce new folktale ‘WUNDERGARTEN’ Feb. 3

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"WUNDERGARTEN" is a for-all-ages tale written and illustrated by Cullman author/artist Ben Johnson South. (Ben Johnson South)

CULLMAN, Ala. – 1870s German Colonial era Cullman County and the collected folktales of the Brothers Grimm inspired the original, new folktale “WUNDERGARTEN,” which will be introduced next month. 

“WUNDERGARTEN” is a for-all-ages tale written and illustrated by Cullman author/artist Ben Johnson South. It tells the story of a 14-year-old German orphan, Fritz, working on a strawberry farm owned by a German widow, Frau Reel, and some “fantastical magic” that happens as Fritz creates a “wundergarten” of Brothers Grimm characters. 

To provide a classic foundation for “WUNDERGARTEN,” South, a member of The Brothers Grimm Society of North America, read and studied each of the 210 German folktales collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm in the early 19th century. 

“(This year), 2023, is the 200th birthday of the first English translation of the brothers’ ‘German Popular Stories,’ which gave the world “Cinderella,’ ‘Rumpelstiltskin,’ ‘Rapunzel,’ ‘Snow White,’ ‘Hansel and Gretel,’ ‘The Frog Prince,’ ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and 203 other timeless tales. This year seemed perfect to try to add to the tradition with a new story. And, Cullman County during the 25 years when it was a German colony, was an ideal inspiration,” said South. 

He continued, “I shared bits of the ‘WUNDERGARTEN’ story last fall with gifted elementary school students in Jefferson County, and they are eager to visit Cullman. However, the Brothers Grimm were not collecting children’s stories, but tales for all ages. I’m delighted to premiere the read-aloud version of ‘WUNDERGARTEN’ this Feb. 3 with the 50-plus age group, ‘Young-at-Heart’ at the First Baptist Church of Cullman.” 

“WUNDERGARTEN” has become a Cullman community project and the author appreciates the help of these folks and groups in supporting the launch: Leldon Maxcy of Leldon’s, Laura Benton of the Cullman County Public Library, Holly Rosen of Cullman Office Depot, Casey and Markus Doering, the Cullman County Museum, Tammy Smith and the Cullman Historical Society and the North Alabama Agriplex. 

The Cullman Tribune will recognize its own 150th birthday and the 200th birthday of the Brothers Grimm works English translation with a serialized version of the full story of “WUNDERGARTEN” beginning in the next issue of The Tribune’s “COMMUNITY MATTERS” magazine.