Since watching Fractured Fairy Tales on TV as a child, traditional stories with a twist have grabbed my attention and delighted my soul. Young children today, who are just learning what to expect in a story, are tickled when a story takes an unusual turn. Playing with expectations develops narrative skills — and a sense of humor!
Want a different take on monkey stories? In Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree, the mischievous monkeys survive the crocodile and live to star in other stories by Eileen Christelow. In another book by this author, Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, children will be delighted by the sight of the secret bed jumper on the last page! And in Ten Naughty Little Monkeys by local author Suzanne Williams (illustrated by Suzanne Watts) the young monkeys start off jumping on the bed but are soon rolling down hills and doing other things which result in many a call to the doctor.
Fans of the three little pigs who escape from the wolf will enjoy TheThree Pigs by David Wiesner, in which the pigs come out of the book, escape on a paper airplane made of pages and generally have a good time getting back into the story. In The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka (illustrated by Lane Smith), A. Wolf recounts the tale from his point of view, all the while lamenting that he has been misjudged, misunderstood and well, framed!
I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly is well known by the preschool set. Children of the Pacific Northwest would not want to miss There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Trout (by Teri Sloat, illustrated by Reynold Ruffins) with its outdoorsy theme. And I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed A Pie (by Alison Jackson, illustrated by Judith Byron Schachner) is fun for anyone who has ever eaten a pie or a turkey dinner.
A parody of another favorite is The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort (illustrated by G. Brian Karas). Seals go “Erp! Erp! Erp!,” tigers go “Roar! Roar! Roar!,” the rabbits go up and down, the vipers go “Hiss! Hiss! Hiss!” and the skunks go “Ssss! Ssss! Ssss!,” resulting in pandemonium on the bus.
Traditional gender and class roles are playfully examined in reinvisioned fairy tales. In The Cowboy and the Black-Eyed Pea by Tony Johnston, a Texas rancher’s daughter finds her true and sensitive love when a cowboy can feel a black-eyed pea through his saddle blankets. In Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson (illustrated by Kevin O’Malley), a resourceful and environmentally aware young woman who dances in sensible loafers instead of glass slippers, captures the heart of a like-minded prince and settles down to a sustainable life in the suburbs. Being self motivated and clever sure beats waiting to be rescued!
Be sure to ask the children’s librarian at your branch for more suggestions of books the child in your life will love! ~ Nancy P., Lake City Branch