DR. GARDNER'S FAIRY TALES FOR TODAY'S CHILDREN by

DR. GARDNER'S FAIRY TALES FOR TODAY'S CHILDREN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Princess who sends her suitors on impossible missions marries the one who refuses to go, on the grounds that it's unreasonable to set troublesome tasks as a test of love. Hans and Greta cage but don't kill the witch, then return home to their stepmother who ""at least is kindly once in a while. . . and someday we'll be able to leave home."" The ugly duck stays ugly but makes friends anyway when he realizes that being friendly and nice is more important than looks. And Cinderelma decides not to marry the prince (""We are different kinds of people and are interested in different things"") but sets up a dress shop instead -- and later weds a more compatible young printer. Dr. Gardner, who aims to ""use what is beneficial"" in fairy tales while eliminating the ""undesirable psychological aspects to their messages"" and substituting a more civilizing release for the cruel and barbarous solutions traditionally employed, demonstrates in his introduction a sincere attempt to come to terms with the fairy tale's ""universal appeal."" Very likely, however, it is precisely the uncivilized aspects that account for that appeal, and though Gardner's twist on the first tale could be worked into a smart spoof (by Jay Williams and Friso Henstra, say) as well as a healthy example, it is not surprising that in excising the neurotic mechanisms from the action he has also removed the fire from the dragon, the music from the royal ball, and from the telling any image that might stir the imagination. Nor do the high-contrast black and white pictures or cheap production (in one case the words actually run off the page) counteract the impression of shoddy utilitarianism.

Pub Date: March 29th, 1974
Publisher: Prentice-Hall