La Petite souris

petite sourisWhen we moved a few months ago, we sifted through nineteen years of memories. We re-discovered many treasures we’d forgotten about. We parted with many things, but there was one box of tiny treasures that we couldn’t ever part with – our daughter’s baby teeth, those tiny pearls that mark that a baby became a big girl. And when that big girl became a young woman and sorted through a lifetime of books, toys, and memorabilia, she gave away or discarded many bags of goodies, but not the little pillow with the pocket in which she tucked her teeth and from which she collected a little money the next morning (money that was ostensibly far less than what her friends received). petite souris2

Illustration: Delphine Doreau

In French, baby teeth are known as dents de lait (dehn duh leh), or milk teeth. They are gathered, not by the tooth fairy, but by la petite souris (lah petite sooree), the little mouse. The tradition came from a 17th century tale written by the Baroness d’Aulnoy: La Bonne Petite Souris (The Good Little Mouse). In the story, a fairy transformed herself into a mouse in order to help a queen defeat an evil king. The mouse’s method was quite original – she hid beneath his pillow and then appeared, frightening him so badly that his teeth fell out. I’m glad that La Petite Souris has substituted money for terror!

41rRveVlu+L__SL75_La Petite Souris

About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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5 Responses to La Petite souris

  1. What a lovely fable and tradition!

  2. Bonjour! Je suis l’illustratrice qui a dessiné la petite souris au ballon…Je ne me souviens pas que vous m’ayiez contactée pour demander l’autorisation de l’utiliser?

    Si vou pouviez corriger : il est d’usage de donner le nom de l’auteur et un lien vers le site de l’auteur, pour eviter les vols. Merci!

  3. Pingback: Freya Blackwood、Júlia Sardà、Delphine Doreau | 插畫生活 V.1.0

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