Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird
by Vivian Vande Velde
The back cover of this book describes:
How to Fracture a Fairy Tale:
1. Make the villain a hero.
2. Make the hero a villain.
3. Tell what really happened.
4. All of the above.
Vande Velde does just this with 13 of the best-known fairy tales, transforming familiar (but sometimes puzzling) stories into
something quite new. Often the tale is turned around, looked at from another
point of view, and given a new, surprise ending. Traditional happy endings
become wistful lessons-learned. Laughs, romance, and horror turn up in
unexpected places. And youthful minds, by processing the stories they know
in a new way, may be exercised in their own creativity. It's a success all
First, as the miller's daughter is forced to spin Straw into Gold, we get
to reconsider who really is the monster of the tale. Next, in Frog, a
transformed prince learns more from his encounter with a spoiled princess
than she does. A short verse titled All Points Bulletin puts the crimes of
Goldilocks in proportion. Tick, tick, tick, down go your preconceived
notions of Red Riding Hood, the Pied Piper, Jack and the Beanstalk, and
Rapunzel. The Billy Goats Gruff is a surprisingly faithful retelling of the
well-known tale - until the very end. In Rated PG-13, Vande Velde throws
out a list of synopses of "fairy-tale endings you are not likely to see,"
though I think Jasper Fforde may have picked up on one of them. The Princess
and the Pea becomes a cautionary tale; Hansel and Gretel a Village of the
Damned chiller; and at last, after briefly reconsidering the motivations of
Cinderella's stepmother, Vande Velde wraps things up with an otherwise faithful rendition of Beauty and the
Beast told from the Beast's point of view.
I have enjoyed some of Vande Velde's books, and several other authors'
collections of "fractured fairy tales," but so far I think this is the one
that may please children best. It renews my interest in reading further
works by this author, including A Hidden Magic, A Well-Timed Enchantment,
Magic Can Be Murder, and Heir Apparent.
Recommended Age: 9+
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