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of the Center for Children's Books

The Bulletin Dozen is a monthly theme-based list of titles available only on-line. Since we're awfully fond of bakers here at the Bulletin, we thought we'd adopt their philosophy of generosity and throw in an extra one or two when we have th em to offer--so don't expect an even dozen. Please feel free to copy, download, or link to these lists. We ask only that you cite the source. See the archive for lists from previous months.

Fractured and Funny,
or, How to Make the Brothers Grimm Turn in Their Graves

Selected by Janice Del Negro and Melanie A. Kimball

Since our August webpage offerings are a bit fractured in and of themselves, it seems only fitting that the Bulletin list should be fractured, too. So in the spirit of blithe irreverance created by the pending end of summer, here is a list of (mostly) humorous picture book take-offs and adaptations of favorite folktales and folk motifs, with two collections of retellings tossed in just to remind us of the dark side of the fairy realm.

Janice M. Del Negro, editor

  • Donoghue, Emma. Kissing the Witch: Old Tales in New Skins.. HarperCollins, 1997.

    "Donoghue's linked series of thirteen poetic short stories are infused with a feminist/lesbian sensibility: here Cinderella flees from the prince into the arms of the fairy godmother, Beauty's beast proves to be a masked woman, and the goose girl, relieve d of the burden of princesshood and queenship, insists on staying in her bucolic state. ... Sophisticated and rich, this is perhaps the closest of all such recent YA retellings to the flavor of Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber; readers with a taste for revisionings won't want to miss it." Gr. 9 and up (BCCB 5/97)

  • Galloway, Priscilla. Truly Grim Tales. Delacorte, 1995.

    "Revisionist fairytales are quite popular these days, and these eight stories are particularly worthwhile entries in the genre ... Galloway fills out each story from somebody else's point of view: that of the giant's wife in Jack and the Beanstalk, whose husband suffers from a deadly disease staved off only by eating the bones of smaller folk like Jack; of Rapunzel's original parents, who spend years searching for their lost daughter; of Rumpelstiltskin, whose secret relationship with the miller's daughte r has an additional layer known only to him; and Cinderella's prince, whose interest in her springs from his foot-fetishism ..." Gr. 7-10 (BCCB 1/96)

  • Hellendorfer, M. C.. Jack, Skinny Bones, and the Golden Pancakes; illus. by Elise Primavera. Viking, 1996.

    "This story ... is a Heinz-57 mixture of age-old tall tales, mixed with gen-u-ine Western characters, and served up (according to the flap) as an 'original folktale.' Whatever it is, this is a gosh-darn good'un and should make a lot of folks pretty durn happy." 5-8 yrs (BCCB 12/96)

  • Lowell, Susan. Little Red Cowboy Hat; Illus. by Randy Cecil. Holt, 1997.

    "Okay, maybe we don't actually need another new version of Little Red Riding Hood, but it can still make life fuller. Lowell's variant is awash in Western flavor, with Little Red ducking rattlesnakes and wending through canyons to get to Granny' s, and the wolf wearing a 'cowboy hat three shades blacker than a locomotive.' The showdown at Grandma's ranch moves along the classic lines, with Grandma finally chasing the 'low-life lobo' off with a shotgun." 5-8 yrs (BCCB 6/97)

  • McNaughton, Colin. Oops!. Harcourt, 1997.

    "'It was the same old story,' the text begins, but it's selling itself short--it's actually a variant on two of them, 'Little Red Riding Hood' and 'The Three Little Pigs.' ... The wiseacre narration is reminiscent of smart cartoons, and listeners will a ppreciate the humor of the wolf's repeated attempts to figure out what story he's in and the relentless fairy-tale momentum that brings him to his fate. ..." 5-8 yrs (BCCB 10/97)

  • Root, Phyllis. Rosie's Fiddle. Lothrop, 1997. "Rosie O'Grady is reclusive and ornery ... But Rosie can play the fiddle so well that folks hide in the bushes to hear it, and the story of her skill spreads to the devil himself. ...[Rosie] knows what she's doing when she accepts his best two out of thre e challenge to a fiddling contest.... Root's adaptation of this traditional motif has a fine readaloud rhythm and a thoroughly satisfying progression as the devil gets his musical due." 6-9 yrs (BCCB 4/97)

  • Schroeder, Alan. Smoky Mountain Rose: an Appalachian Cinderella; illus. by Brad Sneed. Dial, 1997.

    "After a first-class source note on Appalachian variants of Cinderella, Schroeder proceeds--oddly enough--to adapt Perrault's version instead, using a hokey mountain dialect. ... Underneath the excess are some pretty droll lines, though, as when Rose tha nks her fairy hog-mother, who responds, 'Anytime, sugar.' Sneed's earth-toned watercolors poke fun at the story, too ... Fakelore it is, but fun. . . ." 5-7 yrs (BCCB 7/97)

  • Scieszka, Jon. The Frog Prince Continued; illus. by Steve Johnson. Viking, 1991.

    "'Well, let's just say they lived sort of happily for a long time. Okay, so they weren't so happy. In fact, they were miserable.' Although the Frog Prince has been transformed by the princess' kiss, he still sticks his tongue out, hops around on the fu rniture, and whines for his pond. However, a trek through the forest in search of witches who will restore him to amphibious form leaves him glad to go back home, where kissing the princess effects an unexpected happy ending." Gr. 2-4 (BCCB 5/91)

  • Scieszka, Jon. The true story of the three little pigs by A. Wolf ; illus. by Lane Smith. Viking Kestrel, 1989.

    "It turns out that Alexander T. Wolf ('You can call me Al') only wanted to borrow a cup of sugar for a birthday cake for his granny ... After knocking politely on the first pig's door, Al's nose started to itch. 'I felt a sneeze coming on. Well I huffed . And I snuffed. And I sneezed a great sneeze. And do you know what? That whole darn straw house fell down.' And lying in the middle of the straw was the first Little Pig, 'dead as a doornail.' The gruesome humor of the text is kept in the line by t he breezy style of Al's narration, a natural (if you dare) read -aloud studded with offbeat rhyme ..." Gr. K-3 (BCCB 9/89)

  • Stanley, Diane. Rumpelstiltskin's Daughter. Morrow Junior Books, 1997.

    "In this take-off on Rumpelstiltskin, the miller's daughter ... runs off with Rumpelstiltskin because she doesn't want to marry the greedy king ... [they] have a daughter, and, suffice it to say , she winds up in the clutches of the still-greedy king who wants her to spin him some (more) gold. Stanley's retelling is witty, smart, and funny, and her full-color illustrations are the same." Gr. 4-8 (BCCB 7/97)

  • Trivizas, Eugene. The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig; illus. by Helen Oxenbury. McElderry, 1993.

    "Here, the Three Little Wolves are 'cuddly little wolves with soft fur and fluffy tails,' who, warned by their mother about the big bad pig, sensibly build their first home away from home with bricks, which stand against the pig's huffing and puffing with no problem at all. 'But the pig wasn't called big and bad for nothing,' and he knocks the house down with a sledgehammer, with the three little wolves just managing to escape through a window. ... Irony entails a restoration of the proper order of thin gs, and this book has a double transformation that will reassure young audiences at the same time it tells them a new truth about old tales: every pig has his day." 4-8 yrs (BCCB 9/93)

  • Wegman, William. Cinderella; ad. by William Wegman with Carole Kismaric and Marvin Heiferman and illus. with photographs by William Wegman. Hyperion, 1993.

    "William Wegman and his wonderful Weimaraners tackle folklore with this canine Cinderella. There's nothing new in the plot, but the pictorial characterization speaks volumes: Cinderella's modest and long-suffering spirit has rarely been better depicted, and this soulful and noble prince in military navy and gold braid puts other handsome princes in the shade. ... readers who thought they were too old for fairy tales will get a kick out of both the costumed dogs and the satire." Gr. 3-6 (BCCB 7/93)

  • Lowell, Susan. The Bootmaker and the Elves; pictures by Tom Curry. Orchard Books, 1997.

    "You know the story--poor shoemaker with little talent is about to go under when some generous elves save his business with their remarkably comfy shoes--but you haven't seen it told quite like this. Lowell has taken the familiar Grimms' tale and breathe d some ornery new life into it by setting it in that peculiarly American land of dreams come true, the Wild West: 'Once upon a time there was a cowboy bootmaker who was so poor that even his shadow had holes in it.' ... Curry's acrylic rendering of these western characters is the perfect accompaniment to Lowell's laconically funny text, and it's just bigger than life enough to make this a believable tall tale." 5-9 yrs (BCCB 12/97)

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    This page was last updated on August 1, 1998.