The Top Ten Fairy Tales Fractured in 2014 by Emily Andrus
Fairy tales are as important to the literary world as bacon is to life—they’re foundational, ensconced in our societal psyche. Modern stories still thrive on this foundation, including the ever popular “fractured fairy tales,” which present the traditional tale with an unexpected twist. They make for an excellent unit in the classroom with a few example books; fairy tales are a great writing prompt for all grades. The following ten fairy tales have been the inspiration for several new books published last year.
Little Red Riding Hood
A little girl being waylaid by a wolf on her way to Grandma’s sound pretty dangerous. Well, what if that little girl is actually a ninja? As one of my most favorite picture books released this year, Ninja Red Riding Hood from Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat definitely adds some high-flying, action-packed excitement to the original tale. Also released were the picture books, Little Roja Riding Hood (a hilarious bilingual version) and Very Little Red Riding Hood (starring a precocious toddler). For older readers? How about Red Riding Hood Gets Lost? Which actually brings me to my next one…
Prince Charming is a stud, but he isn’t nearly as cool as Prince Awesome! Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams, the brains behind the Goddess Girls series have a new series this year: the Grimmtastic Girls, beginning with book one, Cinderella Stays Late. In this middle-school version, Cinderella must save Prince Awesome’s ball from whatever her mean stepsisters are planning. Five books in the series have already been released (Red Riding Hood Gets Lost being #2) with book six coming any day now, which actually stars…
Goldilocks and the Three Bears
Entering the home of three bears seems like a bad idea. Maybe, however, if those bears were in a rockin’ band, it might gain some appeal. Which is where Goldi Rocks comes in. Corey Rosen Schwartz, besides doing Ninja Red Riding Hood also published Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears with Beth Coulton and Nate Wragg. Just so happens Goldi can hit notes just right—a singer the bears’ band needs. Even if she does drool when she falls asleep on baby bear’s keyboard.
How about for teen readers? A tale with a sleeping protagonist may not seem exciting, but Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay, definitely packs a punch. The heroine is actually Sleeping Beauty’s daughter, but still. She’s out to save her kingdom in a total kick-butt way. For middle-graders, though, the newest in Wide-Awake Princess book has just been released: Princess in Disguise, the continued adventures of the little sister who didn’t fall asleep under the kingdom-wide spell.
Spinning straw into gold can be a lucrative business. Rump by Liesl Shurtliff tells the true story of Rumpelstiltskin—basically, how difficult life is when one is named “Rump.” He’s the butt of all the jokes! So of course he’s going to jump at the chance to develop the talent of spinning stray to gold, even if it may be cursed. The second book in the series is due any day, and actually stars…
Jack & the Beanstalk
William Joyce has released his newest picture book: A Bean, a Stalk, and a Boy Named Jack, with illustrations by Kenny Callicutt. In this case, however, the trip up the stalk is not simply for riches, but a mission to figure out why there has been no rain in the kingdom below—what, with the lack of bathwater, the king’s pinky is getting stinky!
The girl with miles of hair provided the inspiration for two series continuations. The first, a favorite of mine, is Cress, book three in the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. In this case, the evil lunar queen has locked the longhaired heroine in a satellite orbiting earth. The second? Book five of the Whatever After series entitled, Bad Hair Day, where Abby and Jonah are sucked into the fairy tale and are stuck trying to get the story…untangled.
Being hunted by an evil queen is pretty rough, but made easier with the support of seven dwarves. But in Stitiching Snow, by R. C. Lewis, it’s actually seven robot drones. The story centers on a mechanic on a far off frozen planet named Essie, who comes to regret the day she helped a crash-landed pilot. It turns out he knows she’s the missing Princess Snow, endangering her cover to protect herself from the murderous queen.
East of the Sun and West of the Moon
A Norwegian tale related to Beauty and the Beast, it involves a polar bear kidnapping a girl to take to his palace. Which is where the fantastic West of the Moon, by Margi Preus, comes in. In this case, Preus takes the original fairy tale and interweaves it with the very real tale of immigration to America in the 1800s—a fantastical historical fiction. Two girls in Norway must escape the beastly conditions of home and make the almost magical journey to America.
The Generic Fairy Tale
Okay, so this is a bit of a stretch, but I really wanted to bring in the “generic fairy tale” (you know, a princess, a hero, some terrible villain) because of a fantastic new easy chapter book called The Princess in Black by Shannon Hale. Its main twist is that the princess and hero are one and the same: Princess Magnolia moonlights as the Princess in Black, protecting her kingdom from monsters. But keeping a secret identity can be pretty hard, especially with nosy duchesses around.
Emily Andrus is a one-year-old Youth Librarian in Queen Creek, AZ, enthusiastically working with kids aged 0-12. She runs the storytime & book review blog Literary Hoots. You can also find her on Twitter (@literaryhoots). If not reading, she enjoys hiking and watching movies with her own Prince Awesome.