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Fairy-Tale Voices with a Twist

by Jane Yolen ; Rebecca Kai Dotlich ; illustrated by Matt Mahurin

Age Range: 5 - 9

Pub Date: March 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-59078-867-7
Publisher: Wordsong/Boyds Mills

An intriguing idea becomes a thought-provoking collection of short poems from characters readers only thought they knew.

Yolen and Dotlich have taken 15 well-known fairy tales (“Cinderella,” “Snow White,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” etc.) and written two short poems in various formats spoken from the point of view of a character. The Princess and the Pea each get a voice, and so do the Frog and the Princess. Tiny Thumbelina gets two tiny poems, a cinquain and a haiku. The frontmatter lists who wrote what, and a very brief summary of each tale is listed at the end. While short, these notes include tale variants, which is very nice indeed. The beginning poem, “Once,” is by Yolen; and the closing, “Happily Ever After,” is by Dotlich. While every poem is accessible, some are richer and darker than others. “Beauty and the Beast: An Anniversary” (Yolen) visits the couple in their old age and is wistful and touching; “Snide: An Afterthought” (Dotlich) is as the title states: “Ever after, I refused to call him / Rumpelstiltskin; / to me, he is a nasty little man.” Mahurin’s surreal images are layered with color, now matte, now iridescent, with exaggerated perspectives and dreamlike, occasionally nightmarish, elongated or oversized figures.

The poets invite and may well entice readers to write their own fairy-tale poems. (Poetry/fairy tales. 5-9)