Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge, Andrea Dezso |, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses

Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses

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by Ron Koertge, Andrea Dezso
     
 

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Writing in free verse honed to a wicked edge, the incomparable Ron Koertge brings dark and contemporary humor to twenty iconic fairy tales.

Once upon a time, there was a strung-out match girl who sold CDs to stoners. Twelve impetuous sisters escaped King Daddy’s clutches to jiggle and cavort and wear out their shoes. A fickle Thumbelina searched for

Overview

Writing in free verse honed to a wicked edge, the incomparable Ron Koertge brings dark and contemporary humor to twenty iconic fairy tales.

Once upon a time, there was a strung-out match girl who sold CDs to stoners. Twelve impetuous sisters escaped King Daddy’s clutches to jiggle and cavort and wear out their shoes. A fickle Thumbelina searched for a tiny husband, leaving bodies in her wake. And Little Red Riding Hood confessed that she kind of wanted to know what it’s like to be swallowed whole. From bloodied and blinded stepsisters (they were duped) to a chopped-off finger flying into a heroine’s cleavage, this is fairy tale world turned upside down. Ron Koertge knows what really happened to all those wolves and maidens, ogres and orphans, kings and piglets, and he knows about the Ever After. So come closer
— he wants to whisper in your ear.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
The language here is modern, brutal and sharp as a carving knife. The cut-paper silhouette illustrations, rendered by Andrea Dezso in black and red, are haunting and perfect…Koertge is a master at getting to subtle and uncomfortable emotional truths and relaying them in just a few precise lines.
—Holly Black
Publishers Weekly
With sardonic wit and a decidedly contemporary sensibility, Koertge (Shakespeare Bats Cleanup) retells 23 classic fairy tales in free verse, written from the perspectives of iconic characters like Little Red Riding Hood, as well as maligned or minor figures such as the Mole from Thumbelina and Cinderella’s stepsisters. For the princess from the Princess and the Pea, hypersensitivity isn’t all that great (“A puppy licked me and I’ve still got a scar”), and the Little Match Girl appears in a poem with the rhythm of a rap song (“She’s selling CDs on the corner,/ fifty cents to any stoner,/ any homeboy with a boner”). Several stories trade happily ever after for disappointment and discontent, as with the danger-addicted queen in Rumpelstiltskin, or with Rapunzel, who is left with a moody prince instead of the attentive witch who locked her in. Dezsö’s cut-paper Scherenschnitte-style silhouettes nod toward Hans Christian Andersen’s own papercuts—if Andersen were creating a storyboard for the Saw franchise. From Bluebeard’s beheaded wives to a bloody dismemberment in “The Robber Bridegroom,” there are gruesome surprises throughout. A fiendishly clever and darkly funny collection. Ages 14–up. (July)
From the Publisher
With sardonic wit and a decidedly contemporary sensibility, Koertge retells 23 classic fairy tales in free verse, written from the perspectives of iconic characters like Little Red Riding Hood, as well as maligned or minor figures such as the Mole from Thumbelina and Cinderella’s stepsisters... A fiendishly clever and darkly funny collection.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A much-honored poet and novelist retells, in free verse and from various points of view, twenty-three familiar tales (mostly Grimm, Andersen, and Perrault). With a contemporary sensibility and voice, Koertge pitches directly to teenagers. . . Dezsö’s choice of cut-paper illustrations is brilliant, a nod to Hans C. Andersen’s skill in that medium despite the radically different tone.
—The Horn Book (starred review)

The poems beg to be shared aloud, like the best gossip. The sensibilities are wry, often dark, and the language is occasionally earthy... This slim volume is at once simple and sophisticated, witty and unnerving.
—School Library Journal

Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
Tired of sanitized fairy tales or saccharine Disney versions? Welcome to the dark side of Ever After. In 23 free verse selections the after story of many familiar heroes and villains are related in gruesome and chilling details. Some are set in modern times and peppered with street jargon and slang and many have deep sexual overtones. The Little Match Girl is a drug wracked waif selling CDs on the street corner and The Bearskin features an Iraq War veteran suffering from PTSD. Little Red Riding Hood reveals the titillating joy of being swallowed whole and the Three Bears tell of Goldilocks' flight into the forest "dark as a mineshaft" where the last they hear from her is an anguished scream. For the most part these one or two pages entries are honed to perfection (jarring is a reference to cheeks as white as Wonder bread). Scissor-cut illustrations in black are menacing with blood dripping, dismembered bodies and the dominance of evil. The black and white cover art with accents of red foreshadows the wickedness within. Definitely for mature readers.
VOYA - Lisa A. Hazlett
These twenty-three contemporized fairy tales are darkly sophisticated and meant for older teens, likely already familiar with the popular originals and able to recognize and appreciate their humor and irony. Narrated by various characters in several formats, including blank verse, monologues, author accounts, or rhymes; a wickedly gruesome black-and-white illustration accompanies each witty retelling. Humorous entries include Little Red Riding Hood nonchalantly describing being swallowed by the wolf like being with her boyfriend and better than flying coach; Rapunzel's prince musing, "There were a lot of princes in rehab . . . they all looked alike, so they had identity issues;" or Cinderella's deceived stepsisters sniping about the "big Slipper Raffle." Unexpected, cleverly disturbing revelations include Bluebeard's wife considering "scimitar surgery" and presumed rescue equally exciting, or Hansel and Gretel as incestuous, murdering thieves. Entries are also wistful, with Rapunzel sighing that the witch thought only of her, Thumbelina's husband quest leaving a litter of tiny bodies, or "The Princess and the Pea" character dreading her prince's unintentional physical pain. Some entries appear less imaginative, veering from the original tale toward unsubtle social commentary, as "The Robber Bridegroom" miller's daughter teaching feminist theory, the Ogre Queen directing the Pentagon's favorite consulting firm, or a somewhat clunky rap portraying the Little Match Girl peddling CDs to stoners. All retellings hold surprises and are darker than the originals, but their uniqueness is shared poignancy; all sadly, and often chillingly, convey that each character's first supposed "happily ever after" ending was merely a high-priced illusion. Reviewer: Lisa A. Hazlett
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—It's not so happy in Ever After-at least not in Koertge's verses, which skew and skewer traditional fairy tales. Cinderella's stepsisters ("We have names, by the way. She's Sarah/and I'm Kathy…") are understandably disgruntled, but wouldn't you expect Rapunzel to be satisfied? Not so: "…I love my daughter. But the prince is moody and thinks/of himself. While the witch thought only of me." These characters have pretty modern sensibilities; the Little Match Girl is selling CDs, warming herself on their lyrics; Red Riding Hood rattles, "Fine, fine, fine. Do you want to hear this story or not? Good./So I'm in the woods and I hear footsteps or, like, pawsteps…." The poems beg to be shared aloud, like the best gossip. The sensibilities are wry, often dark, and the language is occasionally earthy. Dezsö's cut-paper illustrations extend the eldritch mix of folkloric material and macabre interpretations. This slim volume is at once simple and sophisticated, witty and unnerving.—Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NY
Kirkus Reviews
Short, brisk vignettes flip traditional fairy tales onto their backs. Twenty-three rewritings disclose dark secrets. Although each ostensibly has its own narrator, a lascivious narrative tone runs throughout. Dezsö matches that tone with black cut-out silhouettes of death and dismemberment, breasts unobscured. Incest recurs, as does kinky sexuality. Red Riding Hood, one example of the latter, reveals, "I was totally looking / forward to that part. With the wolf and all. I'm into danger, / okay?" Kink is rarely acknowledged in teen literature; it's unfortunate that these tales are too abrupt to address the topic meaningfully. The line-breaks of Koertge's free verse seem gratuitous. Sexual imagery includes both children (Hansel and Gretel "eat and eat, filling up the moist recesses / of their little bodies") and projected rape-fantasy (the Beast claims that Beauty "almost wanted / me to break her neck and open her / up like a purse"). Descriptions are incomprehensibly flip ("Oh, her skin is white as Wonder bread, / her little breasts like cupcakes!") or harsh ("a beautiful girl…not the usual chicken head ho"). The voice dances from incongruous humor ("it's weird inside a wolf, / all hot and moist but no worse than flying coach to Newark") to modernity forced into fairy-tale diction ("She'd slept over at their hovels"). Will catch some eyes, but this feels like edginess for edginess's sake, no deeper. (Fractured fairy tales. 14 & up)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763644062
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
07/10/2012
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
1,167,479
Product dimensions:
6.60(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Ron Koertge is the author of many award-winning novels, including Stoner & Spaz and its sequel, Now Playing: Stoner & Spaz II; Shakespeare Bats Cleanup; Strays; Deadville; Margaux with an X; The Brimstone Journals; and The Arizona Kid. A two-time winner of the PEN Literary Award for Children's Literature, he lives in South Pasadena, California.

Andrea Dezsö is a visual artist and writer who works across a broad range of media. She is a full-time faculty member at the Maryland Institute College of Art and lives in New York City.

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Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
chapterxchapter More than 1 year ago
Dark, sometimes gory retellings of classic Fairytales. That about sums up Lies, Knives, and Girls In Red Dresses by Ron Koertge, with illustrations by Andrea Dezso. The fairytales you hold near and dear to your heart are completely twisted and will open up your eyes to a darker side of storytelling. Inside you’ll find a different side to stories such as Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, The Frog Prince, The Princess and the pea, among others. Cleverly written, original, and delightfully entertaining. Not only are many of the stories written in short verse, but there was one in particular that stood out in my mind. The retelling of Little Red Riding Hood where Red Riding Hood explains to her mother what happened in the woods when she encounters the wolf, told in the voice of your modern day teenager. I was chuckling all throughout that one. Accompanying these stories are some fantastic illustrations by Andrea Dezso which just seem to pop out of the pages and assists in getting my more gruesome imagination going. Not for the faint of heart, Lies, Knives, and Girls In Red Dresses is a quick read for anyone interested in more of the darker side of a fairytale, with voices from the characters you least expect. A quick read that will turn your fairytale world upside down.
SleepDreamWrite More than 1 year ago
By far the weirdest and random book I've read, that was about fairy tales I guess. Definitely not the friendly kind either. It consists of short tales and poems, sometimes told in verse that has to do with familiar tales. All in all a quick and okay read. If you like dark fairy tales or are looking for a quick read, then you'll like this.