Leaping Beauty

Leaping Beauty

3.9 22
by Gregory Maguire, Chris L. Demarest

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Who better to wreak havoc with eight beloved fairytales than Gregory Maguire, the brilliantly funny author of the adult novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, as well as of the hilarious middle–grade series, The Hamlet Chronicles.

Zany animals of all species run through these fractured tales with alarming


Who better to wreak havoc with eight beloved fairytales than Gregory Maguire, the brilliantly funny author of the adult novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, as well as of the hilarious middle–grade series, The Hamlet Chronicles.

Zany animals of all species run through these fractured tales with alarming speed and dexterity. Who would have thought that Sleeping Beauty, that most regal of all fairy– tales, could be twisted into the story of a frog with a most unusual and promising dance career? Get ready to meet a gorilla queen and a psycho chimp, seven giant giraffes; and one very bad walrus.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
These eight retellings with such animals as "Cinder-Elephant" and "Goldiefox and the Three Chickens" in the starring roles make "a good choice for those whose tastes run to silly and sillier," according to PW. Ages 8-12. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Leslie Rounds
Fractured fairy tales are always fun when well told and imaginative, and this collection fits both those criteria. In eight familiar-but-not tales, cute little tadpole, Beauty, is placed under a terrible spell by a nasty hornet, becoming Weeping, Sleeping, and finally Leaping Beauty. Goldiefox, an out-of-work carpenter, goes to live with the chicken family, helping them open "The Three Chickens Furniture Store and Oatmeal Restaurant." Hamster and Gerbil are taken in by Granny Porky, with one of the villains eventually carried off on a hamster wheel. So What, a youthful baboon, goes to live with the seven giraffes. Little Red Robin Hood (called that because he was a little red robin who liked to pretend he was a superhero) has it out with the big, bad…cat; the three little penguins deal with creative home-building; Cinder-Elephant goes to the ball, balanced delicately on two glass pie plates; and Rumplesnakeskin has to deal with a beautiful sheep, formerly known as Norma Jean. Readers will understand most of the often very silly humor of these tales. Some of it, however, is clearly aimed at adults who may be reading to those children. How many children would associate the name Norma Jean with beauty? Demarest's line drawings, two or three per tale, enhance the fun. This book will be a fine addition to libraries serving upper elementary and junior high school readers.
What would happen if the brothers Grimm had substituted animals for the main characters in their stories? Maguire takes this idea and successfully alters eight well-known fairy tales to feature animal protagonists. Sleeping Beauty is now a frog, Cinderella is a large elephant, and Snow White is an athletic gorilla. Maguire maintains the integrity of each story, but he adds a modern twist by using young adult slang and imaginative words thrown into the dialogue. Demarest's illustrations add to the humor in the stories. Maguire frequently uses fairy tales as the basis of his books, including Wicked (HarperCollins, 1995/VOYA April 1996), Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (1999), and the more recent Mirror Mirror (2003), but he twists and turns the stories to fit his ideas. Young adult readers, who enjoy fairy tales but are not familiar with his other books, might want to give this one a try. It gives a taste of what to expect in his other titles and is a good, light read that can be finished in one sitting. Both public and school libraries will want to add it to their collections. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, HarperCollins, 197p., and PLB Ages 11 to 18.
—Jonatha Masters
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Eight well-known fairy tales are recast, with the aid of animal characters and outrageous puns (with some tongue-in-cheek witticisms thrown in), into such stories as "Little Red Robin Hood" and "Cinderelephant." In one of the most entertaining stories, "Rumplesnakeskin," a gorgeous and tough-talking sheep named Norma Jean changes her name to Beauty and ends up being forced to spin straw into gold to finance the king's latest failing movie venture. Demarest's madcap illustrations add energy and fun to a somewhat uneven collection. While kids will laugh out loud at the irrepressible youngest sibling in "The Three Little Penguins and the Big Bad Walrus," some of the selections, including "Leaping Beauty," seem labored and uninspired. However, fans of Dav Pilkey and Jon Scieszka will appreciate the zany situations and the joyful fracturing of traditional tales.-Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Age Range:
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Read an Excerpt

Leaping Beauty
And Other Animal Fairy Tales

Chapter One

The king and queen of the frogs gave birth to a baby. They were delighted, for they had long wanted a child. The tadpole was as green as the slime in a vernal pond, and the bumps on her skin had bumps of their own. The king and queen decided to call her Beauty, as she was the most beautiful thing they had ever seen.

When the time came to have a party to celebrate her birth, the royal parents invited all the fairies in the kingdom, including bumblebees, butterflies, and an airborne brotherhood of beetles.

The party started out swell. The bumblebees brought their bagpipes, the butterflies brought their banjos, and the beetles brought their bassoons. The queen frog set up the guests in a summerhouse so that their hootenanny music could carry across the pond. (You'd be surprised how much music is written for bagpipe, banjo, and bassoon trios.)

The king frog kept a watch fondly over his little Beauty.

The bumblebees ate the biscuits, the butterflies ate the butter and bread, and the beetles ate the beets. The queen frog kept putting out more, for it was her fondest hope that the fairies would feel like bestowing precious gifts on her beloved, wide-smiled daughter.

When dinner was through, the music struck up again. Many of the fairies danced the hootchy-cootchy. As the lights began to dim and evening chill settled in the air, one by one the fairies stopped their dancing and playing and came forward to look lovingly upon the newborn frog.

"On behalf of the bumblebees, I have a gift," said the boss of the bumblebees, chomping on his cigar. "We bees like to hum a lot. We love songs. So let this little cutie hum and sing songs whenever she likes. She will have a beautiful voice for all to hear and enjoy. Her ribbit will be as loud as a foghorn."

"Thank you," murmured the queen frog. "Thank you all, my darling bees."

The baron of the butterflies fluttered forward. "On behalf of all the butterflies, I should like to give her a gift," he said. "I should like her to move with the grace of a butterfly. Her froggy progress through a pond shall be as moonlight through a glade."

"Bravo," chortled the king frog. "Dear butterflies—our unending thanks!"

Just then there was a buzz at the end of the field. Who should come droning along but the wickedest fairy of the meadows -- a huge, ancient hornet, with a stinger as long as a candy cane.

"Who invited her?" muttered the queen frog.

"Croaked if I know," her husband muttered back. "Thinks she can just crash any party she wants? I'll give her a piece of my mind!" He opened his mouth and unrolled his long, sticky tongue, flexing it threateningly.

"Careful, my dear," said his wife. "She is the most powerful fairy in the field. She stings you, you'll be croaking the Last Big Croak. I suppose we ought to give her a piece of cake or something." She put on her brightest face. "Well, look who's here to grace our little party! Old Dame Hornet, what a surprise!"

"You rude things," cried Old Dame Hornet in a rage. "You have a party and invite all these simpering bugs, and you forget to invite me? I'm rocking with fury! I'm rolling with rage! I'll give your daughter a little present to remember this insult by!"

With a speed surprising for one so old and frail, Old Dame Hornet flung herself to the cradle and looked down into the face of the pretty little baby frog. "Before your first birthday," she cried, "you shall bite down on a stray explosive from some stupid human engineering project, and you shall blow yourself to smithereens!" And she gave a fiendish cackle.

"Oh, anything but that!" shrieked the queen frog. She fell into a dead faint, which made a loud slapping noise in the water, like a belly flop.

But the bishop of the beetles, who had been sneaking a little extra nectar at the refreshment table, now came forward. "I haven't given our gift to the little princess yet," he said. "On behalf of the beetles, I declare that you shan't blow yourself up when you bite down on a stray explosive. You'll just begin to cry, because it will hurt. You will wail, you will moan, you will splash yourself with tears. We will all call you Weeping Beauty. It will be dreadfully sad, but at least you'll still be alive."

"Curses!" shrieked the hornet. "Well, crying all the time, that's pretty bad too. I liked the exploding frog idea better, but you can't win them all. Ta ta, everybody. And next time," she hissed, "invite me to the party."

Recovering from her fit of vapors, the queen joined the king in saying good-bye to the bumblebees and butterflies and beetles. Then hired bedbugs came in to turn down the sheets so the king and queen could go to sleep. Worried to distraction, though, the frog parents couldn't sleep.

"Our Beauty will have a voice," said the king, trying to be consoling. "She'll have grace in motion."

"She'll weep -- that's her fate!" said the queen, who began to weep herself, in sympathy.

The queen and king did their best to protect little Beauty. They watched over her night and day. Beauty seemed such a pretty little thing, gifted at singing and dancing. She was always happy. Everyone around her was cheered up by the crooning of her second contralto voice, by her impromptu tap dancing and soft-shoe routines.

But though show business was gratifying, Beauty longed to be alone from time to time. She didn't want always to be the solo act in frog society. She wanted a break.

So one evening a week or two later, Beauty slipped away through the grass when no one was looking.She had never paddled in the river by herself, and she enjoyed what she saw: the beetles in their holes, the bees in their trees, the butterflies fluttering by in the wind.

Leaping Beauty
And Other Animal Fairy Tales
. Copyright © by Gregory Maguire. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Gregory Maguire is the New York Times bestselling author of Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister; Lost; Mirror Mirror; and the Wicked Years, a series that includes Wicked, Son of a Witch, A Lion Among Men, and Out of Oz. Now a beloved classic, Wicked is the basis for a blockbuster Tony Award–winning Broadway musical. Maguire has lectured on art, literature, and culture both at home and abroad. He lives with his family near Boston, Massachusetts.

Chris L. Demarest, illustrator of many children's books, including Firefighters A to Z, I Invited a Dragon to Dinner, Mayday! Mayday!, T. Rex at Swan Lake, and the Supertwins series, lives in Claremont, New Hampshire.

Brief Biography

Boston, Massachusetts
Date of Birth:
June 9, 1954
Place of Birth:
Albany, New York
B.A., SUNY at Albany, 1976; M.A., Simmons College, 1978; Ph.D., Tufts University, 1990

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Leaping Beauty 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 22 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I truly enyoyed reading the adapted chidhood stories. None of them were very long, and the interpretations had a nice little twist to them.
Hill_Ravens More than 1 year ago
Another collection of Gregory Maguire's short stories centered around nursery rhymes and stories. A delightful, fun, quick read. Most of the stories are only a few pages long, with silly pictures added throughout. A refreshing trip back into the memory of child hood stories and how things might have been if told in an untraditional manner. It is hard to pick a favorite, each story has it's own special fun moment. The line up consists of a twist to sleeping beauty, the three little pigs, Goldie locks, Hansel and Gretel (this one was cool), Snow White (my least favorite but still good), Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and Rumplestilskin. recommend for a truly light, fluffy read. B+
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is fabulous if you love retold fairy tales
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
All the different stories always left me smiling or thinking how good it was. I just loved these small stories and reccomend them to anyone who needs a good short read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Is this book part of a series or is it one book with lots of short stories in it?
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I could not get into this book. It was way to political and it was hard to continue reading when I got to about chapter 4. I got bored basically. But the story sounded awesome. It just...didn't carry me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Should I reeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllllyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy get this bbbbbbbbbbboooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooookkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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