It’s been months and months and months: I have been trying to write a blog post about fairy tales. But each time I think about it, a new “fractured fairy tale” comes in – today Frogged by Vivian Vande Velde and Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff are sitting on my desk – and I convince myself that I have to read more before I write. Alas, it cannot be done. At least not in this lifetime.
Maybe, though, I can just say something quick. First, I have high standards for fractured fairy tales. My two favorites are Into the Woods, the Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine musical, and the Fables series of comics created by Bill Willingham. I like well-written and well-thought-out works. And these two fit the bill. So it may come as a surprise that I really enjoyed A Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy and illustrated by Todd Harris. The story details the true stories of the Princes Charming (otherwise known as Frederic, Gustav, Liam, and Duncan). At first, the guys are all stereotypes (Federic is a fop, for instance), but I think this series will get better. And I think I like how the stories are re-imagined. I believe that the book has already been optioned for a movie. I hope they can avoid Disney-fying it.
Second, if you like this sort of thing, children’s literature is awash with retellings and re-imaginings of fairy tales. Several years ago, The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley was very popular. More recently, many people have lauded Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimm and In a Glass Grimmly. (I found the Sisters series not to my liking and Gidwitz’s stories a bit too gruesome.) But the list truly goes on and on, and I’m not even thinking about picture books or books in the Dewey 398s (fairy tales).
For starters and just in recently memory, Chris Colfer from the television series Glee has written at least one book in his Land of Stories series; Sara Mlynowski has two books out in her Whatever After series – Fairest of All and If the Shoe Fits (they look really fun but I haven’t gotten to them yet); Wendy Mass has her Twice Upon a Time series; E.D. Baker has written The Wide-Awake Princess series; just last week I was reading Jane Yolen’s new book of fairy tale poetry, Grumbles from the Forest.
In the YA section of you library, you’ll find Jessica Day George’s Princess of the Silver Woods; Marissa Meyer’s Cinder and its sequel Scarlet (a series that looks thrilling – it mixes fairy tales and cyborgs); and Sarah Cross’s Kill Me Softly. Of course, on television, there were two fairy tale-based series on in recent seasons (I didn’t watch them and have forgotten their names) and those battling Snow White movies in theaters. That new Jack and the Beanstalk movie hit movie theaters recently. And for grown-ups, Phillip Pullman has written a hefty new book: Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm.
You can take me to task and tell me all the books I’m missing. I know there are so much more. Someday, maybe, I will catch up on all these and then we can get all Jungian on each other and discuss archetypes. It’ll be fun.
(One more thing, for an insightful essay on the works of the Brothers’ Grimm, check out this article from The New Yorker: Http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2012/07/23/120723crbo_books_acocella?currentPage=all.)