Fairy tales are classic stories that generations of children have read or heard and usually stand the test of time. Recently, there’s been an increase in the number of “fractured” fairy tales published, which are altered versions of those classic stories. These can be very engaging for children of all ages, especially if they already know the original story, because it makes any differences more entertaining. Here are a couple of our recent family favorites.
“The Three Little Pigs” is a classic story that has been told many times, and we all know how the pigs outsmarted the big bad wolf. However, have you heard of how the three aliens hoodwinked the big bad robot? If not, you and your child should read “The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot,” written by Margaret McNamara and illustrated by Mark Fearing. In this fractured retelling, the three aliens are all moving out of mom’s house and trying to figure out what planet they should build their new homes on. After aliens Bork, Gork, and Nklxwcyz (have fun trying to pronounce that one) find their homes, a big bad robot comes through the galaxy, wanting to come in the houses of each alien.
There are many aspects of this book that made it a new favorite in our household. First, both my kids loved hearing me try to pronounce the third alien’s name. I didn’t try to make it phonetic, nor a real word, and both my son and daughter got a giggle out of whatever sound came out of my mouth each time. In addition to the alien’s name, we enjoyed the banter between the aliens and the robot. Instead of the normal “huff and puff and blow your house down,” there’s “I will smack and crack and whack your house down!” and other creative adjectives that are used throughout the book.
Although picture books are great for kids of all ages, for those kids that are a little bit older and ready for longer stories, “Whatever After” by Sarah Mlynowski is a wonderful series of chapter books, each one a different fractured fairy tale. These books are about a 10-year-old girl named Abby who, with her younger brother Jonah, have discovered a portal in their basement that transports them right into the middle of various fairy tales. The plot of each book is that once they get into the fairy tale, Abby and Jonah usually make some mistake that changes the direction of the entire book. For example, the siblings convinced Snow White NOT to eat that poisonous apple, but then they realized they had to figure out another way to get her to meet her Prince Charming.
So far, there are 12 books in this series that cover fairy tales including Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, the Snow Queen, and most recently, Little Red Riding Hood. For my daughter and me, once we read the first one, we were hooked! The books in this series have been our bedtime reads on and off for a couple of years now. Abby always learns a lesson from the fairy tale trip she can apply in her own life through each adventure, plus her brother, Jonah, provides a lot of comic relief throughout the series. My daughter is now at the point where she can read them on her own, but I am just as invested in these characters now as she is, and it makes for some great bonding time for the two of us, going on adventures with Abby and Jonah.
If you have children that enjoy fairy tales or adventurous stories in general, then I suggest grabbing some fractured fairy tales during your next trip to the library or bookstore.
Deana Metzke is a wife, mom of two, blogger and book lover who is trying her best to raise children who will enjoy reading long after she’s gone. She is a literacy coach at an elementary school, which strengthens her drive to help all children become book lovers. You can find her talking about children’s books on Twitter at @DMetzke or on her blog, raisingreaders.site.