I have to be honest. What I’m really liking about fairy tale books now a days is this funny little side ways leap (maybe it’s a wiggle or a shake) away from the traditional fairy tale constants. The list reads like :
No, bears, girly princesses, man mountain princes, disturbed dragons, circus ugly witches, spinning wheels of death or even meth kitchen apples. O.k., there may still be glittery looking princesses in some books but on the whole, if Her Royal Highness isn’t quad biking with some Ecuadorean duke, then she’s no metro princess and needs to grope her way back into that wall of thorns. I love that a lot of the fairy tales today are wry and quite a bit left of centre. Goldilocks doesn’t need those bears! They held her back and socially, they’re now dead to her.

In Mo Willems, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, my girl fights the good fight with dinosaurs (one from Norway who happened to be visiting). These jurassic home owners aren’t bright; they don’t dress well; their command of the subtle is as non existent as their I.Q. but by jingo, they have class. They lure the thick as a pickle Goldilocks into their home with chocolate pudding and an open door. She indulges in an orgy of puddingness and then rolls herself towards the bedrooms. It’s like the author can see into my mind (and my social life). If it wasn’t for that unlocked back door (mum dinosaur has that ‘my god, men are cretins’ look on her face) they’d all be eating a lovely, golden, pain au chocolat, crunching their way through orange shoes and flower buttons.

This book is sassy and sharp
goldi

The Foggy Foggy Forest by Nick Sharratt is another tongue in cheek saga of fairy tale creatures who all happen to be part some sort of group work shop in the woods. Bears are on lawn chairs picknicking, Goldie is again squaffing chocs and (my personal favourite) a ogre getting his zen on, sitting in the lotus position. The illustrations are a mixture of black stencil pictures on a background of sepia tint. Bright splashes of colour are used to highlight the characters, allowing them to almost glow on the page. I love the fact that traditional characters are taken out of the castle/candy cottage context and are madly shooting each other with water pistols whilst a multi coloured witch careens madly by on a jet propelled broom stick.

This is a foggy, moon doggy forest
foggy

We even have a lovely little girl go into full revolt against bears. No Bears by Meg Mckinlay tells the story of how a rather genetically challenged monster chases a princess through many fairy tale settings; woods, castles, mountains, kingdoms. Bears do not play a part in any of this. The ubiquitous fairy godmother comes to the rescue though and saves the day. The whole royal family has a celebratory soiree to thank the heavens their prodigy still has all limbs intact and the monster kind of skulks off to wherever monsters go when things go south.

This book is a race against monsters and bears.
no bears

The Magic Fairy Wand 

Now you can’t be taking fairy tales seriously if you don’t hold aloft the magic fairy wand. Good for parties, bbq’s, team building exercises and getting a seat on the train by appearing to look crazy.

What You Do:

  1. Lay newspaper over your work surface to help keep the mess to a minimum.
  2. Have your child paint the entire dowel with her favorite color paint (if you’re using a tinker toy, move on to step 3). You might want to help her choose a colour by offering suggestions, such as black for a magician, pink for a fairy, etc. Set it in a place where it won’t get knocked over or stuck to anything, and leave it to dry.
  3. Trace two identical star shapes onto the cardboard and cut them out.
  4. Invite your child to spread glue over one side of each star, and then sprinkle glitter over the entire thing. You don’t want to skimp on the magic by missing any spots, so be sure the star is completely covered! Let it dry.
  5. Trace a line of glue around the edges of the inside of the stars, leaving a small section at the bottom unglued. Make sure this section is big enough for the dowel to fit into. Sandwich the stars together, glitter sides facing out. Set it aside so the glue can dry.
  6. Cut three long strands of ribbon and knot them around the top of the dowel. Let your child mix and match colors for a funky, personalized look. Add a small dot of glue to keep the ribbons in place.
  7. Put a dab of glue at the tip of the dowel, and slide the star onto it. Add another dot of glue at the bottom of the star to make sure it doesn’t fly off, and let it dry.
 

 

You now have your magic wand. Make them in the hundreds, disperse them to the hordes and soon we will see a fairy tale uprising. Remember, no bears, no nasty witches and no shrieking princesses. Fairy tales also need to be celebrated with song:                                         

Mary, Mary, quite contrary
Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle-shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

Little Miss Muffet  
Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey,
Along came a spider who sat down beside her,
And frightened Miss Muffet away!

Here is my parting thought and I think it encapsulates the new way of thinking about fairy tales. Be Brave!!! Be Resourceful!!!
‘That wall looks about 6 foot high. Why does he need Rapunzel to throw down her hair? Get Red Riding Hood to give him a boost and he’s gravy.’

Tasha Tudor - one of the best artists I love especially all her magical and fairy tales illustrations