The Princess and the Sandcastle

princess sandcastle fairy tale

Dear girl, I know you have this dream, but perhaps building your castle in the sand is not such a good idea.

The Princess and the Sandcastle

Once upon a time, there was a creative little girl. She was the most gifted and ambitious and resourceful little girl in all of Dobbins. The little girl was full of big ideas and not at all dull or boring like all the other children. She had strong hands and fast thoughts and wanted to build the most fantastic castle ever.

“But you’re my princess,” her father said with much love. “Girls are too delicate for building.” Then he suggested she try little-girl things like playing dress-up or having a tea party with her dolls.

But the little girl didn’t want to play those things. She only wanted to build. “I want to build the most fantastic castle more than anything in the whole wide world,” she cried.

princess sandcastle fairy tale

So, on the next hot summer day, Father took his little princess to Mahtyr Beach.

The little girl ran toward the shore carrying her plastic pale and shovel. The tide was low, and she picked a spot away from the crashing waves where the sand was good and wet for packing. Many hours passed as she built a fantastic sandcastle.

Father was very proud.

Castle building is hard work, and the little girl got very hungry. So father unpacked their picnic basket farther up the beach. Together they sat on a big red blanket under a blue-striped umbrella. They ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and drank lemonade while enjoying their break in the shade. After lunch, the little girl told her father a story about the happy princess who lived in her fantastic sandcastle.

And her father was even more proud.

When the little girl returned to the shore, the tide had risen and washed half the sandcastle away.

Without wasting a single second, the little girl plopped down in the water to defend her castle from the cruel waves. “I have to save my work,” she cried as she scooped sloppy sand with her shovel and bailed out water with her bucket.

But the ocean kept creeping closer and closer.

So the little girl worked even harder and faster to save her work.

But the waves kept crashing over her and stole more and more of her sandcastle until there was almost nothing left. And so, the helpless little girl watched her dream crumble and wash away into the sea.

That night, the little girl cried herself to sleep over the loss.

The next day, she begged her father to take her back to Mahtyr Beach so that she could build an even bigger and better and even more fantastic sandcastle.

Father agreed.

Once they arrived back at the beach, the little girl dashed toward the shore carrying her pale and shovel again. Soon, she got lost in her work. She fixed all the mistakes of yesterday and rebuilt even faster. This new sandcastle was indeed bigger and better and more fantastic than the one before.

Then the tide came in again.

“No. No. No! You can’t have it,” the little girl shouted at the sea. She struggled and fought and stomped her feet while cursing the ocean for destroying her dream a second time.

But in the end, all that effort and anger made no difference. For the tide came to reclaim the sands again, as it always had and always would.

The next day, the little girl begged her father to take her back to Mahtyr Beach.

Father said, “Dear girl, I know you have this dream, but perhaps building your castle in the sand is not such a good idea.”

“But I want to build the most fantastic castle more than anything in the whole wide world,” she cried.

“You have a choice, my princess. You can spend your days fighting the mighty sea and crying about it later, or you can figure out how to create something that will last. You can have your fantastic castle, but I suggest you try building it somewhere else. Somewhere safe, so that the ocean cannot steal it from you ever again.”

The little girl considered her father’s wise words. And so, rather than return to the beach that day, she asked to stay home.

Father agreed and set up a small table in her room just for the most fantastic castle ever. Then he gave his little princess a bunch of odd tools and something called clay.

The little girl eagerly went to work. Building with clay was hard at first, but got easier with practice. It took her a long time just to build the foundation. But the little girl did not waste her energy yelling at the sea or crying at night any more. So she had lots more time to tell stories about the happy princess who would someday live in this new castle.

The little girl lived as happily ever after as the princess in her stories. And her most fantastic castle lasted a very, very, very long time.

And the king was most proud.

Years later, the little girl grew up to become a beautiful woman, and the king used the clay model to build a castle of stone for his little princess.

And a hundred years from now, long after the king is gone, that most fantastic castle will still remain.


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82 thoughts on “The Princess and the Sandcastle”

  1. Oh Ava,
    This is such a sweet and powerful story. I can actually see it as a children s book with wonderful illustrations. This story would have a great and lasting impact on a child’s life.

    I just love your writings. Please, don’t ever stop.

  2. You don’t see many new fairy tales these days. Most people just do a “rewriting” of an old one. While a fresh retelling is nice, it’s even nicer to find something new.

  3. I wrote this short story to help myself grieve after losing all my online assets to a hacker stan. This G-rated story about a princess as a little girl is more of a fairy tale than science fiction, but it’s a crowd pleaser. After all these years, I still get a little choked up when I read about this princess and her lost sandcastles.

  4. I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your
    sites really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back down the road.

  5. This is such a sweet lesson on persistance. While it’s good to be driven, it’s also smart to realize limitations. Sometimes it’s okay to quit. Or at least step back and find a better way.

  6. I bookmarked this last year, and came back because I was cleaning out my bookmarks for the new year. And can I just tell you that I kept this one after re-reading it. You made my day (again). Thank you.

  7. OMG. I’m not kidding when I tell you that something very much like this happened to me as a child. It’s the reason I became a sculptor. This is FREAKY!

  8. As relevant to life online as the one with troll living under a bridge.

    1. Yes. Society v. nature. It just occurred to me as I re-read it today, that this story reminds me of the three little pigs. Although that’s not at all what I was thinking when I wrote it. I was completely thinking of the temporal nature of online assets. But yeah, three little pigs.

  9. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

  10. I shared this with my little girl a few months ago and she loved it. She asked me to read it to her tonight so I wanted to leave a quick note to let you know. It’s a keeper.

  11. My little girl loves to build sandcastles, but beach days often end in tears. Just around the time that she gets tired, the tide comes in and it’s like too much for her to handle. This story has saved us a lot of trouble. Except, I had to go out and buy her a bunch of modeling clay and sculpting tools. I think I might have a blossoming artist on my hands.

    (She still loves to build sandcastles too, just no more tears.)

  12. There are so few truly nice things on the Internet these days. I’m thrilled to have found one of them. This story is a gem. Thanks!

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