I enjoy being a part of the fun today’s authors have creating new twists to age-old and familiar fairy tales. It’s obvious, of course, that in order for our children to understand the changes, they need an understanding of the original version. Here are some good examples of twisted tales.
DUSTY LOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS, by Susan Lowell, illustrated by Randy Cecil, Henry Holt and Co., $15.95; ages 4-8.
From the picture on the cover, readers know immediately that this version takes place out west. Dusty, with the middle name of Trouble, leaves her house one morning without even kissing her mom good-bye. She wanders in the woods and enters the cabin of the three bears while they are out for a walk while their red-hot beans are cooling. Dusty does the usual, tries the beans, breaks the chair and falls asleep.
RAPUNZEL: A GROOVY FAIRY TALE, told by Lynn Roberts, illustrated by David Roberts, Harry N. Abrams, $16.95; ages 5-7.
In this modern version, Rapunzel lives in an apartment building where she is kept locked up by her mean guardian, Aunt Esme. The building’s elevator is broken so Aunt Esme uses Rapunzel’s beautiful, long red hair as a way to get up and down. Esme is the lunch lady at the local school. One morning on his way to school, Roger, a student and band musician, sees Esme coming down from the balcony. On another visit he learns the magic words to meet Rapunzel. Rapunzel sews scarves together so she and Roger can go outside. When Esme discovers what is happening, she cuts Rapunzel’s hair and kicks her out of the apartment. Now homeless, Rapunzel sees a poster advertising the band with Roger. She goes to hear him and they meet again. They become best friends. Roger continues to play in his band and Rapunzel makes wigs with her cut-off braids.
As for Aunt Esme, she may still be stuck upstairs in her apartment. Remember, the elevator doesn’t work.
MAGIC WINDOWS FAIRY TALE MAGIC, by Gillian Swordy, illustrated by Graham Percy, Running Press, $12.95, ages 4-8.
This sturdy board book contains a synopsis of 11 favorite fairy tales told in rhyme. Children will enjoy pulling the tabs on the acetate pages as they see the pictures changing, such as the pumpkin turning into a coach and Goldilocks running out of the house of the three bears.
THE GINGERBREAD GIRL, by Lisa Campbell Ernst, Dutton, $16.99; ages 4-8.
A year after the gingerbread boy ran away and was eaten by the fox, the lonely old woman and the lonely old man decided to bake his sister. She comes to life and is off and running as soon as she is out of the oven. She has everyone chasing her to the river, where she asks the fox for a ride across. Gingerbread Girl claims to have learned from the past. See if she meets the same fate as her brother. Stella Louella’s Runaway Book is another story written by Ernst. Children will enjoy following Stella all over town as she retraces her steps to find her missing library book.
PIRATE TREASURE MAP: A FAIRYTALE ADVENTURE, by Colin and Jacqui Hawkins, Candlewick Press, $15.99; ages 4-8.
There are lots of characters to follow in this book. Jack Hubbard and his Old Mother and dog live at the Dish and Spoon Inn. One night Uncle Cap’n Horatio Hubbard arrives. He is on his way to discover treasure and needs a cabin boy to sail with his crew on his ship, the Goosey Gander. Jack is more than happy to travel along. Some of the crew members are questionable, especially Wicked Ed Wolf. Ed knows that Cap’n Hubbard keeps the map in his hat. Ed takes the hat, but the wind blows it overboard. Jack goes overboard in pursuit and is rescued by the Owl and the Pussycat. Readers can follow along with a map from the pocket on the cover as Jack travels around the island until he gets to the dark dark wood, finds the dark dark chest, opens it and finds the treasure.
GOLDIE AND THE THREE BEARS, by Diane Stanley,HarperCollins, $15.99; ages 5-8.
Goldie is a girl who knows exactly what she likes. She also knows what she doesn’t like. Because of her strong opinions, it is difficult for her to find a friend. When she invites children to play, they are often too bossy or too rough and she doesn’t like bossy or rough. One day she gets off the school bus at the wrong stop. She goes to the nearest house and rings the bell. When nobody answers, she opens the door and walks in. She eats the sandwich on the third plate, which is exactly what she likes. She finds a good book in the living room and reads it. When she tires, she finds a bed that is just right for a nap. The bears come home and realize someone has been in their house. When baby bear finds Goldie, she jumps on the bed and awakes her with a start. The two are having fun jumping on the bed until the older bears tell them to stop before they break the bed. The bears are very understanding, and invite Goldie to stay and play with baby bear. After a call to mom, the two have fun together and Goldie has a new friend who is just right. Somebody and the Three Blairs by Marilyn Tolhurst is one of my favorite versions of this tale. Somebody is a little bear who visits the Blair family, which is a fun twist on this favorite tale.
GOLDIE LOCKS HAS CHICKEN POX, by Erin Dealey, illustrated by Hanako Wakiyama, Atheneum, $17.99; ages 4-7.
Goldie Locks wakes up one morning and is covered with spots. As a result, she can’t visit any of her story-book friends, including the three bears and Little Red. Her brother is very mean and wants to connect the dots on her face. Fortunately for us, chicken pox doesn’t mean anything to many children today thanks to modern medicine. They don’t realize that while Goldie’s pest of a brother is making fun of her condition, he’ll soon be the next one with spots on his face.
Judy Belanger is Chicago Parent’s children’s book reviewer and a retired elementary learning resource center teacher with four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6.