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Illustration by Bernadette Watts (1996)

"Brother and Sister"is a Fairy Tale about a brother and a sister who escape from their Wicked Stepmother, fed up with the woman's cruelty. They don't know, however, that the lady is also a witch...

When the stepmother learns that Brother and Sister have escaped, she enchants the streams in the forest in an attempt to turn them into animals. After drinking from one of the springs, the brother is transformed into a deer. They find a cottage in the woods and decide to live there for a while. Eventually, a king and his court come to the forest to hunt, and the brother eventually ends up leading the king to the cottage.

When the king sees the sister, he falls in love with her and asks her to marry him. She agrees to come to his castle, but only if the deer (her brother) can come along too. After a while, the sister has a child with the king, which is around the time when the stepmother discovers how happy the brother and the sister are, and she and her own daughter plot to ruin their happiness again...

The first recorded version comes from Giambattista Basile's Pentamerone; the better known ones are re-told by The Brothers Grimm (as Brüderchen und Schwesterchen), and by Alexander Afanasyev (as Sister Alionushka, Brother Ivanushka). The Grimms version was included in the anime series Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics, with several modifications

See also "The Enchanted Stag".


Tropes used in Brother and Sister include:


  • Animorphism: The brother is turned into a deer.
  • Back From the Dead: After being murdered by her stepmother, the Sister returns as a ghost to look after Brother and her child. When the King later catches her before she is about to leave the castle forever, she is brought back to life.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Sister grows into a really pretty girl, whereas the stepsister is not just evil but also ugly until the stepmother uses her magic on her (though she can't hide the bad eye).
  • Bride and Switch: More like Wife and Switch, but yeah.
  • Burn the Witch: The Wicked Stepmother's ultimate fate in the original. The evil stepsister, on the other hand, is thrown out in the woods and killed by wild animals.
  • It Was a Gift: Sorta. Sister has a golden chain and she gives it to Brother when he's turned into a deer.
  • Promotion to Parent: With the stepmother being a huge bitch, Sister is more of a mother figure to Brother than just a Cool Big Sis.
  • Rags to Royalty: The protagonists go from two abused children who had to run away from their abusive caretaker, to the wife and brother-in-law of a King.
  • Red Right Hand: The evil stepsister has a bad eye, which cannot be concealed with magic. As such, she must lie down in a specific position that hides said eye; it's made easier by her impersonating a woman who had just given birth, thus having an excuse to not move a lot.
  • Rule of Three: It's from the third spring they encounter that the brother drinks from, and thus is turned into a deer. It's also during the third day the king and his court are out hunting that the king meets Sister.
  • Talking Animal: Brother retains his capacity for human thought and speech after being transformed into a deer.
  • Wicked Stepmother: And one doubling as a Wicked Witch, even.
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