Long ago, in a quiet, quaint village, if you looked closely, you might find a charming scene: two children dancing with delight. Friends since the cradle, Gerda and Kai’s hearts happily unfolded to each morning like the roses and bluebells that bloomed between their houses. All was wonder in their world. Gerda and Kai would only stop their dancing long enough to listen to the wonderful stories Gerda’s grandmother would share.
How could these innocents know that such fantastic tales would weave their way through their own young lives?
One day, the grandmother told the children of a Snow Queen, who had lived a dark and twisted existence for so long, her heart had grown ice-cold. It was thought the Snow Queen had fallen under the terrible spell of a magical mirror.
Kai and Gerda learned the legend of the magic mirror as well; a mirror created by a hobgoblin to twist the view of anyone who looked at his reflection in the mirror. The hobgoblin hoped to wreak havoc, knowing people’s views of themselves and everyone and everything else in the world would become distorted. Blessing looked like curse; virtue appeared as vice. In short, anyone who fell under the mirror’s awful enchantment started down the path of becoming as depraved as its maker.
A mischievous crew of goblins, tag-alongs to the evil hobgoblin, endeavored to take the mirror all the way to heaven, curious to see what mayhem it could wreak there. But on their way up, up, up, so fitfully did the impish goblins laugh, that they dropped the mirror. The mirror crashed to the ground, shattering. And so the story went that whoever encountered even the smallest shard of the broken mirror would see only the earth’s brokenness, its sin and sadness.
Oh, the tales Gerda’s grandmother told!
So don’t you know that just after she closed her storybook, Kai, the kindest of boys, got a speck in his eye? And that it was no ordinary fleck of dust, but one of the tiny bits of the hobgoblin’s mirror? Kai instantly began acting odd. Gerda couldn’t help but see his sudden indifference toward her, his aloofness.
And then Kai disappeared.
He followed the Snow Queen, the very Snow Queen from grandmother’s story, but no one in the village had a clue what had happened to him. Gerda didn’t either, but she knew from a place deep inside that her friend was in trouble. And so, being a girl of great love and loyalty, she decided to go find him.
Wearing a scarf Kai had given her, Gerda dashed off without a doubt. She must find her friend. She came to a rippling river and wondered if it held the key of how to get to Kai. But the river had no answer.
As she wandered away from the river, two blackbirds flitted among the branches of the forest, chattering cheerfully, as blackbirds do. “Look! We have a visitor!” one exclaimed. The pair was easily excited, and they hurried down from the trees, surrounding Gerda. They peppered the girl with questions, speaking all at once.
Somewhat startled and struggling to get a word in, Gerda tried to tell the eager creatures about her search for Kai. “Oh! I saw a boy in the castle. Maybe it was your friend,” the blackbirds interrupted.
“Come this way!” cried the blackbirds as they dove into Gerda’s path. And so, she followed them as they guided her to a castle’s gates and into its royal court.
The blackbirds introduced Gerda to a royal princess—and her new prince.
“Perhaps here is the boy you are searching for!” they said, thinking the prince was Kai.
Gerda was crestfallen. Seeing her disappointment, the princess tried to console her, giving her a pair of red shoes to keep her safe on her journey.
Gerda resumed her wandering in the forest and was cheered by the sight of woodland fairies and a sprite, impishly peaking at her from behind the trees. Feeling tired and quite out of harm’s way, Gerda lay down to rest.
But a band of gypsies, led by a robber girl, crept up from out of the trees. They were not so friendly. They poked her and taunted her. Even though she was frightened, Gerda trusted enough to show the robber girl the scarf from Kai and explained about her quest. The robber girl returned Gerda’s favor by stealing the scarf right out of her hands. Gerda realized the gypsies were more interested in her things than her story. But Gerda tried once again to plead with the robber girl for help. Seeing her great love, the robber girl relented, giving Gerda back the scarf and offering to introduce her to a white stag.
The mystical animal appeared, dancing with the robber girl, who then left Gerda to the aid of the stag. Gerda set off to continue her journey. But when she went to the right, the white stag blocked her. And when Gerda turned to the left, again, the white stag barred the way. What kind of help was this? Where could she go? Gerda, trapped by the white stag from going anywhere at all, sank to her knees in prayer.
Ah, that was just where the white stag wanted her, and off the creature ran into the wood. A group of angels came to Gerda while she beseeched God for help.
The wood was transformed. Gerda found herself in a Land of Ice, with snow- laden branches and flakes falling from the sky. Gerda looked about and realized Kai must be near, and then Kai himself appeared, still following the Snow Queen. Upon finding Kai, Gerda ran to him, cried for joy. He wept as well, weeping the enchanted speck right out of his eye. The evil spell was broken, and Kai was back to his sweet old self whom Gerda grew up with.
The Snow Queen would not give up immediately, however, and she strove to keep the two friends separated. The angels protested. Then the blackbirds, the princess, the robber girl, and the white stag appeared and pushed the Snow Queen and her wicked influence away.
Gerda introduced Kai to the new friends who led her to him. And the merry band of children and helpers returned to the little village, amongst the familiar faces of the townspeople. All looked on warmly as Gerda’s grandmother was reunited with the children.
And so things were as they should be again, set to rights after a long journey that was anything but straightforward—but nothing if not miraculous.