Thursday, August 25, 2011

Top 5 fractured fairytales

List by Annie, Central Library

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."
~ Albert Einstein

Annie is one of the stars behind Auckland Libraries' Teen blog, and she recently posted an introduction to fairytales, fractured and otherwise, as well as linking to an earlier selection of fairytale retellings reviewed by fellow librarian Teigs. Here are some of her favourite older titles.

Cinder Edna / by Ellen Jackson ; illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
For ages 6-8. Cinderella and Cinder Edna, who live with cruel stepmothers and stepsisters, have different approaches to life; and, although each ends up with the prince of her dreams, one is a great deal happier than the other.

In which we learn that happiness comes from the person within, not the cover story.

Dealing with dragons / by Patricia C. Wrede
For ages 11+. Bored with traditional palace life, a princess goes off to live with a group of dragons and soon becomes involved with fighting against some disreputable wizards who want to steal away the dragons' kingdom.

In which we learn that chapter headings can be diverting, and ‘king’ doesn’t always mean the same thing. First in a quartet. Dare you not to snigger while reading this.

The three pigs / David Wiesner
For ages 6+. The three pigs escape the wolf by going into another world where they meet the cat and the fiddle, the cow that jumped over the moon, and a dragon.

In which we learn that living outside the story can be a riot.

Phoenix and ashes / Mercedes Lackey
Upon the death of her father, Eleanor Robinson falls victim to her stepmother, a cruel Elemental Master of Earth, until heroic pilot Reginald Fenyx returns home, and together these two lost souls must find the courage to overcome evil.

In which we learn that the horrors of war can ‘inspire’ some horrific fairytale evil. Part of a loosely linked series. Also worth hunting down, Lackey’s Tales of the five hundred kingdoms series.

Deerskin / Robin McKinley
The queen dies after bequeathing to her king a portrait capturing her surpassing beauty. Their daughter, the princess Lissla Lissar, is the very image of her mother, even to her black-red hair. On Lissla's 17th birthday, the king announces that he will marry his daughter! Horrified, Lissar locks herself away, but the king breaks in to beat and rape her. Barely alive, Lissla escapes with her dog Ash to find sanctuary in the mountains. The moon goddess heals Lissar--suppressing the dreadful memories, changing her hair to white, giving her a stainless white deerskin dress--and four years pass in what seems a day. Now Lissla enters a neighboring kingdom, where she meets the dog-fancying prince Ossin. As she slowly regains her memory, so she falls in love with Ossin, who proposes. Unable to tell him of her past, Lissar again flees into the mountains, returning the following year ready to denounce her father, regain her black-red hair, and marry Ossin.

In which we learn that fairytales really were a way of warning the innocent. And that a ‘fairytale’ ending used to mean something quite different. Find McKinley’s other fairytale-based novels, particularly Beauty and Spindle’s end if the darkness of this tale is too much.

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