y Deaf Culture teacher asked us to get into groups and adapt a regular hearing children’s story to contain elements of Deaf Culture, including pictures.  She would then turn them into a book of short stories for an elementary school classroom at a deaf school.  My group picked the Grimm fairy tale The 12 Dancing Princesses, and I’m so proud of how it turned out!!  I couldn’t resist posting it here with the pictures.  I did all the Illustrations myself.   Here it is:

 nce upon a time, a hearing king had twelve deaf daughters, each one more beautiful than the last.  They all slept together in one large, splendid room.  Their beds stood side by side and every night when they went to bed the king locked the door and bolted it so he knew his children were safe.  Every morning when  he unlocked the door, he saw that their shoes were worn out, with holes in the toes and laces broken.  The king ordered an investigation, but after many weeks of trying, no one could find out how the princesses were able to leave the locked and bolted room. 

The king was very upset that he had to spend so much royal money on new shoes for his daughters, for princesses could not wear shabby shoes.  He proclaimed that whoever could discover where his daughters went at night could choose one of them for his wife and be king after his death.  If, however, they could not discover where his daughters went after three days and nights, they should be banished from his kingdom forever.

It was not long before a prince from the next kingdom came and offered to discover where the princesses danced at night.  He was welcomed warmly into the palace with a large feast, and in the evening, was led into a bedroom next to the pricesses bedroom.  He was to watch and discover where the twelve went, so the princess’s bedroom door was left open.  Nevertheless, the prince’s eyelids grew heavy and he fell asleep.  When he awoke in the morning, all twelve pairs of shoes had holes in them and he had no idea how this had occured.  The same thing happened on the second and third nights, so he was banished forever from the kingdom.  Many others came after and undertook the mystery, but none discovered how the shoes got holes in them and were banished as the first prince had been.

One day a poor, wounded veteran found himself on the road to the town where the princesses lived.  He met a funny old woman on the road who asked him where he was going. 

“I really don’t know,” he answered jokingly. “I thought I might discover where the princesses danced holes in their shoes and become the king.”

“That’s not so difficult.”  Said the old woman mysteriously.  “The secret is that you must pretend to be sound asleep.”

With that, she gave him a little cloak and said, “If you put this on, you will be invisible.  Then you can follow the princesses at night.”

When the soldier recieved this good advice, he decided to try his luck.  He went to the King and announced that he also wanted to take the challenge.  The King welcomed the old soldier, and had his servants dress him in royal garments.  At the feat that night, the oldest princess stood up and performed an ABC story in sign language for everyone in the hall.  Her signing was beautiful and it made the soldier want to learn more.  It also made him want to succeed more than ever before.

Later that evening, he was led into the bedroom next to the twelve princesses.  He lay down immediately, and after a while began to snore as if in the deepest sleep.

The twelve princesses felt the vibrations of his snoring, and so they got up.  They then opened the wardrobes and brought out pretty dresses and dressed themselves in front of the long mirrors.  They sprang about and rejoiced at the thought of going to the dance.  Because the girls were deaf, they didn’t realize how noisy they were being while getting dressed and dancing about laughing.  But the youngest princess wasn’t feeling joyful and signed to them that she had a bad feeling.  Her sisters just thought she was being silly and teased her.

When they were all ready to go, they looked carefully at the soldier, but he had closed his eyes and did not move or stir, so they felt themselves quite secure.

The eldest went to her bed and tapped it.  It immediately sank into the ground, revealing a secret pathway.  The sisters went down through the opening, the eldest going first.  The soldier, who had watched everything, did not wait any longer.  He sprang out of bed, put on his invisibility cloak, and went down last behind the youngest princess.  Halfway down the stairs he stepped a little on her dress.  She was terrified, and she began waving her arms to get her sister’s attention.

She signed, “My dress is stuck.  Someone is pulling my dress!”

The eldest signed back, “Don’t be silly, you caught it on a nail.”  They then continued down the stairs.

When they reached the bottom of the stairs, they were standing in a wonderful avenue of trees, all the leaves of which were silver shone and glistened.  The soldier thought, “I must carry a token away with me.” and broke off a twig from one of the trees.  The youngest thought she saw something, but since her sisters had made fun of her before, she decided not to say anything.

As they traveled deeper into the forest, the leaves of the trees turned to gold, and then to diamonds.  Again, the soldier broke branches from each of the trees, and each time the youngest princess thought she saw something move, but he was too quick for her to be sure.  They went on and came to a great lake where twelve little boats stood, and in each boat sat a handsome deaf prince.  Each took one princess with him.  The soldier seated himself next to the youngest.

The youngest prince signed to his princess, “I don’t know why the boat is so much heavier today, and I will have to row with all my strength if I am to get across the lake.”

“What could be the cause,” she signed, “but the warm weather?  I feel very warm too.”

On the opposite side of the lake stood a splendid, brightly lit pavilion, perfect light for signing and dancing.  The princes rowed over and endered a silver and gold ballroom.  Each prince danced with the girl he loved most all night long.  The dancers could feel the pulsating music and they moved with so much joy.  They did not know that the soldier danced with them unseen.  They danced until 3 o’clock in the morning, and when they were finished all their shoes had holes.  The princes then rowed them back across the lake and this time the soldier seated himself by the eldest, so he could get back to bed without suspicion.

On the shore, the girls took leave of their princes, and promised to return the following night.  As they were saying their long goodbyes, the soldier ran out in front and lay down quickly on his bed.  When the twelve had come up slowly and wearily from their midnight dance, the soldier was already snoring so strong that they could feel the vibrations.  They felt confident that he had slept the whole time they were away.  They took off their beautiful dresses, laid them away, put the worn out shoes under the beds, and went to sleep.

The next morning the soldier did not tell the king what he saw.  Instead, he went with the twelve princesses again to their wonderful dance, and again the next night.  Everything happened has it had before, and each night the princesses danced until their shoes were worn to pieces.

When it came time for the soldier to give his answer to the king, he took the three twigs with him as proof.  The sisters stood outside, peeking through the window, trying to read his lips as he spoke to the king.  They noticed the tree twigs and wondered, worried, how he got them.  The youngest concluded, “He must have followed us.”  They knew they had been caught.

When the king asked the soldier, “Where have my twelve daughters danced there shoes to pieces at night?”  the soldier answered, “in an underground pavilion with twelve princes.”  The soldier then explained how he had found out.

The king then had his court guard get his twelve daughters and bring them in.  The king yelled at the girls as he always did, thinking that if he shouted loud enough they could hear him.  Of course, it was not until the interpreter signed that they understood what their father was saying.  He asked if the soldier told the truth.  When the princesses saw that they were betrayed, many of them closed their eyes so they could not see the interpreter signing.  However, the eldest felt obliged to confess all.  Hearing this, the king asked the soldier which one of his daughters he would have for his wife. 

The soldier answered, “I am no longer young, so give me the eldest.”  But he was also thinking of how beautifully she had signed the ABC story on his first night in the palace.

The engagement was announced by the royal herald and the whole kingdom was invited to the wedding the following month.  The sisters were dismayed that their older sister was marrying a hearing man, but eventually he won them over.  During that month, the soldier used pen and paper to communicate with his fiance, but he was secretly taking sign language lessons.  On his wedding day, the soldier signed his vows to his new bride.  He learned as much as he could about the deaf world, and always went with his wife and her sisters to all their social activities.  As the soldier’s sign language skills grew, so did the love between him and his princess, and they lived happily ever after.  The End,