Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cinderella Is So Yesterday

Books range from grades K-6

There are so many different versions of Cinderella that it’s easy to come up with a comparative literature unit just on that story alone. But, what if you happen to get sick of Cinderella? There, I said it…someone had to. Throughout the years, many authors have decided to try their hand at retellings of traditional tales. And with much success, there are authors who have made it big…Jon Scieszka’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, Gail Levine’s Ella Enchanted, and Disney's versions of the many fairy tales out there.

Some of the readings for my graduate classes were of different versions of folktales or fairy tales. The two most prominent that come to mind are Lon Po Po by Ed Young (China’s Red Riding Hood)—(grades K-3) and Snow White In New York by Fiona French (grades 3-6).

Lon Po Po is brilliant simply with the illustrations alone. I remember my assignment for class involved finding the hidden wolf throughout the pages of illustrations. This added a layer of depth to the story making for an even darker plot in some ways. I really enjoyed turning a critical eye to the illustrations.

Snow White in New York takes a more mature approach to the story, taking place in the 1920’s with art deco flair. The illustrations play a big role in this title too. The sharp lines and angles of the illustrations make New York come alive. Snow White still has her evil step mom, but seven jazz musicians who want her to be their singer save her. And it wouldn’t be the height of the New York social scene if Snow White weren’t poisoned by a cherry in her cocktail; or her falling in love with a newspaper reporter.

Retellings will be the theme for this week, so stay tuned…

Young, E. (1996). Lon po po. New York, NY: Puffin.

French, Fiona. (1990). Snow white in new york. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, USA.

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