Monday, October 8, 2018

Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Old Tales by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Rohan Daniel Eason

When I was a kid, my mom bought my sister and me a big book of fairytales we were supposed to share. Neither one of us liked the tales we read very much, and the book basically became a dust collector. So when my Kiddo came along, I told my mom "No. More. Fairytales. Please." But had Emily Jenkins' Brave Red, Smart Frog been around, I certainly would have encouraged her to give a copy of it to my Kiddo.

Here are seven classic fairytales that have been turned on their ear and are just wonderful. Yes, well-known favorites like the Brothers Grimm's Snow White and Hansel and Gretel are here. Jenkins has also included three by Charles Perrault, The Fairy is renamed Frog and Pearls and The Three Ridiculous Wishes has become simple The Three Wishes, and of course, there is Red Riding Hood. The Frog Prince is here, but not exactly the one originally by the Brothers Grimm; and you couldn't retell fairytales without including the story of The Three Great Noodles.

The fairytales that Jenkins chose are more or less faithful to the original versions we know, but not totally. Instead she has written them as she would want to tell them herself.  Her justification: the organic nature of stories. Fairytales were originally told orally and with each telling, each teller made little changes. Even after they were written down, they continued to change bit by bit. Jenkins intention was to "bring out what's most meaningful to [her] in the stories" in the tradition of those earliest tellers of fairytales. The seven stories chosen for this volume are all familiar to you, but there is the delight of discovering what Jenkins has done to them.

And as you read, you will noticed that there are small ways in which the tales connect to each. Some of the characters live in "a frozen forest, cold as cold ever was." Nothing grows, the streams are always frozen over, even horses can not walk through this forest. Other characters live in a sunny, warm place on the outskirts of the frozen forest but almost all find themselves there for different reasons. A woodcutter who is granted three wishes lives there, a huntsman goes there to cut the heart out of a vain queen's beautiful stepdaughter, a young girl in red walks through this forest to meet her dying grandmother for the first time, and two children, taken to the forest by their father, discover a candy house after they are abandoned there. And sometimes one character passes through the story of another. I found that by connecting the stories through the setting made the characters feel less isolated and therefore, their stories felt less dangerous, and I could see the point of each one in a new way.

Each tale is introduced with a watercolor and ink illustration by Rohan Daniel Eason that really captures the cold, dangerous, haunting atmosphere of the forest and you can see, the cover reflects the interconnectedness of the stories placing Red Riding Hood and The Frog Prince in the same picture.

While there isn't really much new in these stories, Jenkins has managed to bring back some of their magic and charm by making what was old into something new.

Back matter includes an Author's Note, but there is not sourcing for the stories used. And you can find a useful Educator's Guide to download produced by the publisher, Candlewick Press HERE

This book is recommended for readers age 8+
This book was as ARC received from the publisher, Candlewick Press

No comments:

Post a Comment

Imagination Designs