Grumbles from the Forest: Fairy-Tale Voices with a Twist

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Overview

What were all those fairy-tale characters thinking? Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich answer this question in paired poems, with sometimes startling results. The Princess claims all those mattresses kept her awake—not a silly pea—while the poor pea complains that the princess snores. One Snow White begs the witch to settle by the bay and throw that mirror away. Another boldly tells the mirror she “won’t be guided by a glass that’s so one-sided.” Grumbles from the Forest is a bewitching brew of voices—grumbling, ...

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Overview

What were all those fairy-tale characters thinking? Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich answer this question in paired poems, with sometimes startling results. The Princess claims all those mattresses kept her awake—not a silly pea—while the poor pea complains that the princess snores. One Snow White begs the witch to settle by the bay and throw that mirror away. Another boldly tells the mirror she “won’t be guided by a glass that’s so one-sided.” Grumbles from the Forest is a bewitching brew of voices—grumbling, pleading, bragging, reminiscing, confiding—that bubbles with magic and wonder. The spectacular paintings that tie the poems together are full of surprise and intrigue. This stunning collection includes end notes that briefly describe the tales and their history and an introduction that invites readers to imagine their own poems from unusual perspectives.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Yolen and Dotlich refashion 15 classic fairy tales into incisive poems told from dual perspectives. Cinderella laments wearing glass shoes when other choices were more sensible (“I could have put on/ moccasins./ Those would have been real stunners”). Cinderella’s stepsisters also speak up: “She moved to a castle, maids and all./ Oh piddle! That slipper./ That rat./ That Ball.” In an especially stirring poem, Beauty speaks of her initial resistance to the Beast: “I can’t get past/ his fangs, his roar.” In their twilight years, it’s a different story: “I have no regrets./ None./ Though sometimes I do wonder/ what sounds children/ might have made/ running across the marble halls.” Mahurin’s inky illustrations make theatrical use of dimension, light, and shadow as the characters bound from their expected roles. Ages 7–up. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"Yolen and Dotlich refashion 15 classic fairy tales into incisive poems told from dual perspectives. . . Mahurin's inky illustrations make theatrical use of dimension, light, and shadow as the characters bound from their expected roles." — Publishers Weekly
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Yolen and Dotlich have chosen fifteen familiar fairy tales; for each, one or the other of them has written two deftly crafted poems. Sometimes these are different views of the same character; sometimes they offer two different points of view. Beauty speaks of her daydream as she dances with the Beast; much later she muses on her life and what might have been. We get comments from both Hansel and Gretel. Other characters' stories included are Sleeping Beauty, the Gingerbread Boy, Cinderella, the Little Mermaid, Jack and the Beanstalk, the Princess and the Pea, Rumpelstiltskin, the Frog Prince, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Three Billy Goats Gruff, Thumbelina, and the Three Bears. There are added notes summarizing all the original tales. Each story gets a double page for an illustration that interprets the personality dramatically and naturally but with some accompanying symbol: Cinderella's bucket and mop and shining slippers; a ruggedly aggressive Billy Goat; a goggle-eyed Frog about to "splat" against a red wall, etc. Strong emotional content enhances the literary, with hints along the forest path depicted on the jacket/cover. Readers can be challenged to come up with their own variations on the themes. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 3–5—Mining the world of standard fairy tales, these poems are presented in the voices of the various characters. The pea relates his tale of woe upon being smashed by the princess. The giant's wife from "Jack and the Beanstalk" takes pity on the boy and facilitates his escape. A wounded Cinderella regrets her choice of shoes, and an introspective Beauty wonders if she chose the right spouse. A table of contents as well as summaries of the original tales augment the text. Stunning painterly illustrations may compensate for a few less-than-thrilling twists on the familiar tales. Stellar depictions of Rumplestiltskin and The Frog Prince richly enhance the text. Some poems are thoughtful and others merely silly but the illustrations are consistently eye-catching. The concept is fresh, and most of the poems are enjoyable if a few feel more contrived than creative. Still, this unique offering will find a home in language-arts classes, and the art begs to be shared one-on-one.—Carol Connor, Cincinnati Public Schools, OH
Kirkus Reviews
An intriguing idea becomes a thought-provoking collection of short poems from characters readers only thought they knew. Yolen and Dotlich have taken 15 well-known fairy tales ("Cinderella," "Snow White," "Jack and the Beanstalk," etc.) and written two short poems in various formats spoken from the point of view of a character. The Princess and the Pea each get a voice, and so do the Frog and the Princess. Tiny Thumbelina gets two tiny poems, a cinquain and a haiku. The frontmatter lists who wrote what, and a very brief summary of each tale is listed at the end. While short, these notes include tale variants, which is very nice indeed. The beginning poem, "Once," is by Yolen; and the closing, "Happily Ever After," is by Dotlich. While every poem is accessible, some are richer and darker than others. "Beauty and the Beast: An Anniversary" (Yolen) visits the couple in their old age and is wistful and touching; "Snide: An Afterthought" (Dotlich) is as the title states: "Ever after, I refused to call him / Rumpelstiltskin; / to me, he is a nasty little man." Mahurin's surreal images are layered with color, now matte, now iridescent, with exaggerated perspectives and dreamlike, occasionally nightmarish, elongated or oversized figures. The poets invite and may well entice readers to write their own fairy-tale poems. (Poetry/fairy tales. 5-9)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590788677
  • Publisher: Boyds Mills Press
  • Publication date: 3/1/2013
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 209,299
  • Age range: 7 years
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen has received numerous awards for her writing, including the Golden Kite Award, two Christopher Medals, and both the Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota and the Regina Medal for her body of work. She has four other books scheduled for Spring 2013: a middle grade novel, a graphic novel, a nonfiction picture book, and a poetry book for the very young. She lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts, and St. Andrews, Scotland.


Rebecca Kai Dotlich
is the author of more than a dozen poetry and picture books, including When Riddles Come Rumbling and Lemonade Sun. She gives presentations and poetry workshops to students, teachers, librarians, and writers across the country. She lives near Indianapolis, Indiana.


Matt Mahurin
is the illustrator of My Beautiful Child by Lisa Desimini. He is also a photographer, whose work is in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a filmmaker, who has made over 100 music videos and three feature films. He lives in Northport, NY.
 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2013

    Grumbles from the Forest: Fairy Tale Voices with a Twist by Jane

    Grumbles from the Forest: Fairy Tale Voices with a Twist by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Matt Mahurin
    Wordsong, 2013
    Poetry
    40 pages
    Recommended for grades 3-5




    Classic fairy tale characters are the voices within these pages.  I love the following lines in the Nore to Readers: "Imagine.  Enchant.  Write a poem that rewrites the tale.  Make a little magic."  Each poem from a different character voice and perhaps from an unfamiliar perspective.  The poems were fun, for me it was the artwork that shined though.  

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