Pre-K

Growing Reader

8 Fractured Fairy Tales for
Young Readers

by Devon A. Corneal

Fractured Fairy Tales for Young Readers

Ever wonder what would happen if Red Riding Hood weren’t quite so dense, or the pigs got smarter, or Cinderella stood up to her evil stepmother?

Timeless fairy tales are timeless for a reason, but every so often, I need something different. That’s where fractured fairy tales come in.

Jon Scieszka gave me my first glimpse into the devilish world of reimagined fairy tales with The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and I used it to stage a protest with a group of kids at a children’s theater. These things happen.

If you want to be equally subversive, check out these wonderfully surprising takes on the classics.

  • Ninja Red Riding Hood

    by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat

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    Corey Rosen Schwartz is a master at weaving together martial arts and familiar fairy tales to create extraordinarily engaging, funny, and unforgettable new stories. The wolf always learns his lesson, but in surprising ways, and don’t be shocked when Red Riding Hood and her Granny show off their karate skills. Can’t get enough? Check out Rosen Schwartz’s The Three Ninja Pigs as well. Wolves don’t have it so easy anymore.

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  • Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

    by Mo Willems

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    Only Mo Willems could write a story about a family of crafty dinosaurs who like to eat chocolate pudding and succulent children. Forget bears and porridge and an underage trespasser and think instead of wily carnivores, visiting friends from Norway, and a less-than-subtle trap for a clueless little girl. This Goldilocks isn’t too bright, but things work out in the end.

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  • Never Satisfied: The Story of the Stonecutter

    by Dave Horowitz

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    This might is more of a folktale retelling than a fairy tale, but work with me, because sometimes, frogs aren't trying to woo princesses into giving them a kiss. Sometimes they're really hard workers wishing for a better life. Or rather, what they thought would be a better life. Bold illustrations and a hilarious narrative make this a truly fun take on the classic grass-is-greener message.

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  • Who Pushed Humpty Dumpty?

    by David Levinthal, illustrated by Jon Nickle

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    Humpty Dumpty’s fall is one of several fairy tale crimes being investigated by a blunt police frog named Binky who looks like he walked straight out of a ‘40s noir film. In Levinthal’s world, Goldilocks is a serial offender, Hansel and Gretel go free after claiming self-defense, and Humpty Dumpty? Well, let me tell you — it wasn’t an accident.

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  • Interrupting Chicken

    by David Ezra Stein

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    Anyone familiar with the particular agony that can come from reading to children before bed will appreciate Interrupting Chicken and its excitable, but well-intentioned title character who just wants to save her favorite fairy tales from their usual endings.

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  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

    by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

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    No one reworks fairy tales like Jon Scieszka. He’s a genius. The clever, sly, and very, very funny, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs is on my All-Time Top Ten list of children’s books. It takes a fairy tale, turns it on its head, and makes you root for the bad guy. It’s perfect. If you’ve never heard the wolf’s side of the story, it’s time you did. Equally amazing is The Frog Prince, Continued which looks at the realities of “happily ever after.” What happens when the princess is a nag and the prince has some swampy habits? You’ll never look at fairy tales the same way again.

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  • Cinder Edna

    by Ellen Jackson, illustrated by Kevin O’Malley

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    I always thought Cinderella was a little too reliant on her fairy godmother, which is why I was so thrilled to see that Cinder Edna wasn’t going to make the same mistakes. Thank goodness Ellen Jackson gave the old Cinderella story a kick in the ball gown with a loafer, instead of a glass slipper.

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  • Cinderelephant

    by Emma Dodd

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    Cinderelephant isn’t your usual fairy tale heroine, but what fun would it be if she was? With evil warthogs thwarting Cinderelephant’s chance at happiness, it will take all of her Furry Godmouse’s magic to give this pachyderm a happy ending.

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