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Devon Corneal

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Once Upon A Time

Posted: 08/06/2012 9:29 am

Ever get bored with the same old fairy tales? Does the idea of reading yet another "princess gets rescued by a prince and lives happily ever after" story make you yawn? Would you like to see the classics spiced up a bit? You're in luck, because a handful of irreverent and wildly creative authors have heard your pleas. This month, as summer winds down, change things up during story-time with new takes on our old favorites. Whether it's a changed point of view, a play on old themes, or a modern retelling, fairy tales have never been more enjoyable.

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  • "Goldilocks And The Three Dinosaurs" by Mo Willems

    Mo Willems can do no wrong in my eyes, and if he wants to put Goldilocks face to face with a family of crafty dinosaurs who like chocolate pudding and succulent children, I will not complain. Forget bears and porridge and an underage trespasser and think instead of wily carnivores, visiting friends from Norway and a less-than-subtle trap for a clueless little girl. This Goldilocks isn't too bright, but she figures things out in the end. We all could learn from Willems' advice -- "If you find yourself in the wrong story, leave." <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Goldilocks-Three-Dinosaurs-Retold-Willems/dp/0062104187" target="_hplink">via Amazon</a>

  • "Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty?" by David Levinthal

    Sometimes I wonder if David Levinthal is human -- at the very least, I don't think he sleeps much. And maybe in those quiet dark hours when most of us are getting some rest, he's re-evaluating the canon of fairy tales as a series of '40s detective movies in which a blunt, matter-of-fact police frog named Binky solves crimes in his neck of the forest. Goldilocks -- a serial offender. Hansel and Gretel -- a clear case of self-defense. And Humpty Dumpty? Well, let me tell you -- it wasn't an accident. "Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty?" is the first children's book from the wildly creative Levinthal and I hope it won't be the last. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Who-Pushed-Humpty-Dumpty-Notorious/dp/0375841954/" target="_hplink">via Amazon</a>

  • "Jack And The Baked Beanstalk" by Colin Stimpson

    Oh Jack, you had me at "baked beans." Take a classic character, put him in a fast food truck in the city, add some freeway construction, an unfortunate change in economic circumstances and a lot of baked beans and you've got a delicious new take on an old friend. The Jack of this tale knows the story of his predecessor, so he goes up the beanstalk with an idea of what he's getting himself into, but even he doesn't expect what happens next. Giants may not be quite as bad as we've been led to believe. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Jack-Baked-Beanstalk-Colin-Stimpson/dp/0763655635/" target="_hplink">via Amazon</a>

  • "No Bears" by Meg McKinlay

    Bears are a staple of fairy tales. From Goldilocks and the Three Bears to The Bear to Bearskin, they're everywhere. Which makes sense -- they're big, scary, and live in the woods, so they are perfectly frightening. But what if your stories banished bears forever? That's precisely what one little girl attempts to do, with amusing consequences. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/No-Bears-Meg-McKinlay/dp/0763658901/" target="_hplink">via Amazon</a>

  • "Interrupting Chicken" by David Ezra Stein

    Anyone familiar with the particular agony that can come from reading to children before bed will appreciate "Interrupting Chicken" and its excitable but well-intentioned title character who can't help but save her favorite fairy tales from their usual endings. Who wouldn't want to explain things to Chicken Little or Little Red Riding Hood? But interrupting has its price. You'll be charmed by what happens when Chicken's father runs out of bedtime stories and Chicken is forced to take over. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Interrupting-Chicken-David-Ezra-Stein/dp/0763641685/" target="_hplink">via Amazon</a>

  • "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!" by Jon Scieszka

    I was once at a party with Jon Scieszka, the father of fractured fairy tales. (Just to be clear -- when I say I was at a party "with" Jon Scieszka, I mean, I was there, so was he, he has no idea who I am, and I spent the evening watching his every move trying to figure out how someone so normal-looking comes up with such fantastic and fabulous books. It bordered on stalking.) "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!" is on my Top Ten list of children's books. It is witty, clever, engaging, sly, subversive, thought-provoking and funny. It takes a fairy tale, turns it on its head and makes you root for the bad guy. It's perfect. If you've never heard the wolf's side of the story, it's time you did. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/True-Story-Little-Pigs/dp/0590443577/" target="_hplink">via Amazon</a>

  • "Is That You, Wolf?" Illustrated by Steve Cox

    We have a thing for books about wolves in my house, and this nod to The Three Little Pigs contains a determined farm animal and a very clever wolf. Brave readers can help Little Piglet search for the wolf by sliding their hands into cleverly illustrated pockets to check if the wolf is hiding under the hay, in the chicken coop or in the weeds. Your kids will get a thrill from the unknown, but take the warning on the cover seriously: this is NOT your traditional bedtime story. <a href="http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/is-that-you-wolf-steve-cox/1111619086?ean=9780764165603" target="_hplink">via Barnes & Noble</a>

  • "Wolf! Wolf!" by John Rocco

    This might be more of a fable than a fairy tale, but let's not quibble. Once again, we get a story told from the wolf's perspective and once again, you'd be surprised at what you don't know about the stories we've grown up with. Sometimes, wolves are just trying to live out their remaining days peacefully, growing gardens and minding their own business. Gorgeously illustrated, set in China and full of the same lessons as the original (but far funnier), "Wolf! Wolf!" never goes where you expect it to, and that's a very good thing. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Wolf-John-Rocco/dp/1423100123/" target="_hplink">via Amazon</a>

  • "Cinder Edna" by Ellen Jackson

    So maybe Cinderella was a little whiny and too reliant on her fairy godmother to fix things for her. Maybe she should have been more like Cinder Edna and taken matters into her own hands instead of waiting for someone else to change her life. I mean, I know, having a wicked stepmother sucks, and the stepsisters aren't the greatest, but kids today shouldn't expect a woman with a wand to make everything better. Maybe the Cinderella story needs a kick in the pants with a loafer, instead of a glass slipper. Just a thought. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Cinder-Edna-Ellen-Jackson/dp/0688162959/" target="_hplink">via Amazon</a>

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