Strange dreams came over him, while he thus slept. It seemed as if the old woman was taking off his clothes, and putting on him the skin of a squirrel. Now he could make bounds and climb like a squirrel; he associated with the other squirrels and guinea-pigs, who were all very polite, decent people, and he did his duty of waiting upon the old woman in his turn with the rest.
This is an excerpt from “Zwerg Nase”, or ‘Nose, the Dwarf’ – a fairy tale by Wilhelm Hauff, published in 1826 in his fairy tale almanac for the year 1827 for “sons and daughters of cultured classes”.
Most film and TV adaptions concentrate on the transformation of a little boy into a small person with a large nose (and his subsequent delivery by a speaking goose (in fact a girl who had also been transformed). But I was always most fascinated by the thought that humans had been ‘magicked’ into squirrels and guinea-pigs and could clamber and cook and collect dew-water in coconut-shells or sun-rays in sieves to be made into bread. *
I guess that explains my soft spot for squirrels ….
*Want to know more? You can read the full tale in German or English.
It may be enough to drive you over the edge..