Scaredy Lady of Shalott

Note: There are probably twenty people on earth who will get this, but I came up with this connection in class one day and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It’s based on a WONDERFUL children’s book by Montreal author Mélanie Watt (which you should buy for yourself, if not for your child):

and Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s famous poem “The Lady of Shalott”:

Anyway, this is what happens to your brain when you teach Victorian Literature but are spending a great deal of time reading children’s books: Enjoy!

Scaredy Lady of Shalott

Scaredy Lady of Shalott never leaves her tower.

She’d rather stay in her safe and familiar tower than risk venturing out into the unknown. The unknown can be a scary place for a lady.

A few things Scaredy Lady of Shalott is afraid of:

  • Reapers reaping early
  • Surly village churls
  • Red cloaks of market girls
  • A curly shepherd lad
  • Two young lovers lately wed
  • Knights in shining armour

So she’s perfectly happy to stay right where she is.

Advantages of never leaving the tower:

  • great view (through a mirror)
  • plenty of weaving
  • safe place
  • no reapers, churls, market girls, shepherd lads, young lovers, or knights

Disadvantages of never leaving the tower:

  • same old view (through a mirror)
  • same old weaving
  • same old place

In Scaredy Lady of Shalott’s tower, every day is the same. Everything is predictable. All is under control.

Monday: weaving – Tuesday: weaving – Wednesday: weaving – Thursday: weaving –Friday: weaving – Saturday: weaving – Sunday: weaving.

Scaredy Lady of Shalott’s daily routine:

  • 6:45 am            wake up
  • 7:00 am            do some weaving
  • 7:15 am             look at view (through mirror)
  • 12:00 noon      do some weaving
  • 12:30 pm          look at view (through mirror)
  • 5:00 pm            do some weaving
  • 5:31 pm             look at view (through mirror)
  • 8:00 pm            go to sleep

BUT let’s say, just for example, that something unexpected DID happen…

You can rest assured that Scaredy Lady of Shalott is prepared.

A few items in Scaredy Lady of Shalott’s emergency kit:

  • Parachute
  • Hand mirror
  • Embroidery floss
  • Net
  • Pen

What to do if the curse is activated, according to Scaredy Lady of Shalott:

  • Step 1: Panic
  • Step 2: Run
  • Step 3: Liberate tapestry
  • Step 4: Put on kit
  • Step 5: Consult Exit plan
  • Step 6: Exit tower (if there is absolutely, definitely, truly no other option)

Exit Plan “TOP SECRET”

  • Exit 1: Note to self: Watch out for churls and market girls
  • Exit 2: Note to self: Do not land in river. If unavoidable, find a boat and write your name on it.
  • Exit 3: Note to self: Look out for reapers and  knights
  • Exit 4: Keep in mind that young lovers are everywhere.

Remember, if all else fails, playing dead is always a good option.

With her emergency kit in hand, Scaredy Lady of Shalott watches (through a mirror). Day by day she watches (through a mirror), until one day …

Thursday 9:37 am

Sir Lancelot flashes into the crystal mirror!

Scaredy lady of Shalott turns to look and cries “A curse is on me,” knocking her emergency kit out of the tower.

This was NOT part of the Plan.

Scaredy lady of Shalott jumps to catch her kit.

She quickly regrets this idea.

The parachute is in the kit.

But something incredible happens …

The magic web floats wide and she hangs on for the ride. Scaredy lady of Shalott is no ordinary lady. She’s a flying lady!

Scaredy lady of Shalott forgets all about the knight, not to mention the reapers, churls, market girls, shepherd lads, and young lovers.

She feels overjoyed! Adventurous! Carefree! Alive! Until she lands in a boat.

And plays DEAD.

After Lancelot says “She had a lovely face,” Scaredy Lady of Shalott realizes that nothing horrible is happening in the unknown today. So she returns to her tower.

All this excitement has inspired Scaredy Lady of Shalott to make drastic changes to her life…

Scaredy Lady of Shalott’s new-and-improved daily routine:

  • 6:45 am             wake up
  • 7:00 am             do some weaving
  • 7:15 am              look at view (through mirror)
  • 9:37 am             float into the unknown on magic web
  • 9:45 am             play dead
  • 11:45 am            return home
  • 12:00 noon       do some weaving
  • 12:30 pm           look at view (through mirror)
  • 5:00 pm             do some weaving
  • 5:31 pm              look at view (through mirror)
  • 8:00 pm             go to sleep

P.S. As for the emergency kit, Scaredy Lady of Shalott is in no hurry to pick it up just yet (it’s between two young lovers. Ew.)


8 comments on “Scaredy Lady of Shalott

  1. melani on said:

    After that amazing breakdown how could I NOT read Scaredy Squirrel? Who cares if I’m 35?

  2. sinead on said:

    Genius! We love it! Janet and Mom in Sweden.

  3. Pingback: The Postmodern Child » Blog Archive » You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello

  4. Alice on said:

    You should SOOOOO make that into a book

  5. admin on said:

    Oh, Alice, I wish! But I can’t because it would be horrible plagiarism. I was even nervous about posting it here, but I figure it’s extra advertising for Mélanie Watt.

  6. Cathy Dunn on said:

    Your mom sent me this blog link and I have so enjoyed all of your writings. Every one touched a chord within and sent me into a variety of responses from gentle laughter to dorment tears to a warm cinnamony feeling – all very much appreciated. Your skill with words is only surpassed by your evident sincerity and passion for those you write about.
    I had a similar situation with an unmarried aunt that I ended up caring for thru hospital, rehab, seniors home and finally her passing. My dad had always been her supportive brother and he was no longer there. I was often upset by her uncustomary selfish behaviour and constant need to try to get me to take her home and stay with her and worry about her safety. Your story has given me insight as to her needs that I had never before understood as clearly. Thank you.
    Our grandkids love Scaredy Squirrel and # 2 is out now – just as good!
    Your writings on parenthood could be – NO – should be published as your wisdom and truth are seldom seen in print.
    Your little man will learn as he grows that he has an exceptional mother,
    Thank you for sharing, Cathy

  7. Mary-Ellen O'Neil on said:


    I am not familiar with Scardy Squirrel but I can see it in terms of Frog and Toad Together…..

  8. Susan Gwyn on said:

    Alice gave me the link to your Scaredy Lady of Shallot, after I had read Scaredy Squirrel for the umpteenth time to Anna (Walton). I love it! I’ll never be able to read either book or poem again, without thinking of you. Thank you! Susan Gwyn

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