|Snow White 1937 trailer screenshot (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Fairytales are addictive. Who can get enough of Cinderella, magic wands, poisoned apples, and Prince Charming? If you look at Snow White, Rapunzel, or The Little Mermaid, the actual stories are actually simple. But the idea of a girl giving up everything she knows (include her own fishy tail) to chase love touches some part of us so deeply we tell those stories over and over again, in many different ways.
I’m a sucker for new versions of old stories ever since I got hooked on Eleanor Farjeon’s The Silver Curlew (and if you’ve never read the book, go and chase it down. It’s a funny, exciting YA version of Rumplestiltskin complete with imps and romance.)
Disney’s Snow White, with its amazing art and incredible animation, grabbed me from the start. Same with Cinderella, 60’s hairdo and all.
But what really makes a rework of a fairy tale sparkle is a new slant on an old tale. Look at how Wicked and Into the Woods took off – and yes, I’m counting Oz as a fairy tale. I realize Into the Woods is a return to the blood of the Brothers Grimm, but the grit of real life gives the musical a different perception, especially of happy ever after.
Disney continues to release their versions, including series like Once Upon a Time. Every so often a new twist on Snow White is released. And as for us readers, there’s a slew of glass slippers and evil stepmothers.
- Cinder by Marissa Meyer is one of my favorites. I love this steam / cyberpunk take on Cinderella, complete with exotic setting, gorgeous prince, a Martian princess, and an android looking for a new leg. Forget that wimpy shoe business – this heroine needs an entire limb.
- Briar Rose by Jane Yolen uses elements of Grimm in a literary exploration of extermination camps and Nazism.
- The Once and Future King by TH White is an amazing version of King Arthur’s legend. White makes Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere, and Lancelot come to life in vivid color, with lots of the animals he loved so much including an owl named Archimedes.
- Naturally tales like Snow White are the best known, but really curious readers might seek out versions of Russian or Japanese tales like The Girl with a Bowl on Her Head (Read online: http://www.worldoftales.com/Asian_folktales/Japanese_folktale_36.html ) Yukimi Ogawa wrote In Her Head, In Her Eyes, an interesting version of the story where it turns out a pot on one’s head really does have a purpose, after all.
- I love when several stories meet in one book. Sarah Pinborough does a great job bringing Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstiltskin, and Red Riding Hood together. Plus it’s part of a series, so there’s more to love if you enjoy it.
I don’t think we’re going to ever run out of modernized fairytales, and I’d love to know which books I missed on this list. Which are your favorite Happily Ever Afters?
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