Tell me if you have a topic you'd like to see. (Contact: .)
Please also let others know about this site.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Miller - The Little Man in the Dog Cart - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

Olive Beaupre Miller established the publishing company of The Book House for Children and produced the classic My Book House set and more.  Among those "and more" books was a three book set called My Travelship with books focused on Japan, Holland, and France.  Tales Told in Holland was published in 1926 and is now in Public Domain.   

The Netherlands is informally called Holland even though that is only the name of two (North Holland and South Holland) of the twelve regions.  At the time of publishing both North and South were all one district.

Tales Told in Holland covers all of the Netherlands, which the Foreword says attempts "to reveal all sides of Dutch life, -- Dutch history, Dutch art, Dutch literature, Dutch geography, Dutch customs, and withal, the Dutchman' sense of humor, his love of cleanliness and thrift, his sturdy independence and the character of his fancies."  That's a large job for a country with a complicated history.  Today's tale is set in the transitional time after both Spain and France were removed in the Dutch Revolt and in the story we meet the Dutch William of Orange or William the Silent (sometimes even called William the Taciturn).  Don't confuse this William of Orange with either his descendants, William II nor the English William III who is the one commonly called "William of Orange", from the reign of "William and Mary" over England, Ireland and Scotland.

Portrait by Adriaen Thomasz. Key, c. 1570–84
Yes, it's confusing, and adding in both Spain and France trying to claim Holland adds to more than I want to discuss.  It's enough to know the country had tried for a long time to be left alone to run its own affairs.  The real focus is William the Silent or Taciturn opposite an ordinary man wanting self-government of the land and so proud of his team of dogs that he outruns the King and his fine horses.

Miller retells the folktale from the province of Gelderland and, as for the rest of the Tales Told in Holland, the illustrations are by Maud and Miska Petersham.  Their over 50 year career in illustrating children's books is excellent and in this book they even recreate illustrations by Dutch master artists to celebrate its art.  For this story, however, I quibble with the picture of the "Little Man in the Dog Cart" -- or more precisely there only being one dog pulling the cart.  

Why the quibble?

Because I love sled dogs, huskies, malamutes and more.  The picture makes it look like one dog is pulling.  Right now my own "Malamutt" (husky/malamute commonly called an "Alaskan Husky") is getting on in years.  As a senior dog he's finally trying more indoor life.  Notice I said "trying"?  Too often he's like this picture found ages ago on the internet.

He's now often the only dog on the trail panting, while other dogs and their humans are FREEZING!

Now you can see why I keep coming back to this story.  Obviously sled dogs aren't a Dutch breed, but the nature of this "little man" thumbing his nose at unappreciated rulers by letting dogs show his own superiority reveals "the Dutchman' sense of humor" with a dash of that "sturdy independence."   It also includes a Dutch song or nursery rhyme.

To which I'll add a picture I often use as wallpaper on my computer at this time of year.

Happy travels with or without a dog, but always with a story!


This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key.
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

No comments: