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Fairly Fairy Tales
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Fairly Fairy Tales

by Esmé Raji Codell, Elisa Chavarri (Illustrator)

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Parents and children love to play "question" games: Would you eat spaghetti made with gummy worms? Would you wear your clothes backwards all day? Sometimes the answer is "yes" and sometimes it's "no"—but the fun is in the asking. Gifted writer and educator Esme Raji Codell has writtten a book that incorporates fractured fairy tales with this kind of parent


Parents and children love to play "question" games: Would you eat spaghetti made with gummy worms? Would you wear your clothes backwards all day? Sometimes the answer is "yes" and sometimes it's "no"—but the fun is in the asking. Gifted writer and educator Esme Raji Codell has writtten a book that incorporates fractured fairy tales with this kind of parent-child interplay to create a pitch-perfect combination of bedtime read-aloud and fairytales that will delight children and parents!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A small boy isn't quite ready for bed, so his mother runs through six familiar fairy tales in checklist form. The Three Little Pigs is boiled down to "Sticks?" "Yes." "Straw?" "Yes." "Bricks?" "Yes." "Solar panels?" "Nooooo!" Rushing through the bedtime canon isn't a new idea, but Codell (Sahara Special) and Chavarri (Santa Goes Green) add a twist: Mom can't resist wrapping up each story with an off-kilter nod to contemporary culture. Thus, the pigs' brick house gains solar panels and a surrounding community that looks like hipster Brooklyn, while Cinderella and the prince dance underneath a disco ball, with wardrobes straight out of Saturday Night Fever. Chavarri renders the traditional fairy tale elements in tidy, pretty spot illustrations, and the modern-day variations in freewheeling, comically detailed spreads (Red Riding Hood gets her nails done at a salon, while the woodsman gives one wolf a shampoo). Although it's unlikely that Mom's raucous and silly improvisations would have such a soporific effect in real life, the boy's repeated protestations should ring true for those who demand their stories be told the "right" way. Ages 4–8. (Jan.)
Children's Literature - Elizabeth Fronk
As a little child gets a kiss and some water, he is not so sure about the actual bedtime. However, the array of books on the bed might make bedtime go a little easier. The three little pigs' story begins as a series of questions but gets an environmental-friendly twist that leads to a very funny elaborately illustrated two-page spread. Little Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel receive the same type of treatment. Each telling makes for some very funny and alternate endings to these familiar tales. Readers must pay particular attention to the illustrations in this sprightly-told picture book, because the illustrations are full of humor that might be missed without careful examination. These details make up for very sparse text. Also, readers must be rather familiar with the stories that first appear on the little child's bed to enjoy the humor. So, it is with some reservations that this book is recommended for such a young age group, since they may not understand the subtle humor that the illustrations convey. However, first and second graders will appreciate the illustrations will enjoy this twist on fairy tales, and older readers will enjoy the wry and colorful illustrations in spite of minimal text. Reviewer: Elizabeth Fronk
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—Bedtime stories take a twist in this attempt to shake up traditional tales. When a child says "no" to bedtime, fairy tales are offered in order to encourage sleep. Each tale is condensed into three familiar elements from the story ("Bread crumbs? Yes./Gingerbread? Yes./Witch? Yes.") and then a fourth term that is obviously not original to the story ("Piñata? NOOOOO!" says the child). The turn of the page suggests a "Well, maybe" scenario. Unfortunately, the tales are most often not "laugh-out-loud" as promised by the book jacket, but rather border on the absurd. For example, when Cinderella is presented as "Fairy godmother? Yes./Pumpkin coach? Yes./Glass slipper? Yes./Disco ball? NOOOOO!," the spread that follows features Cinderella with her John Travolta-clone Prince Charming dancing under the disco ball. The digital illustrations have some charm but hold little appeal for young children. Some terms, such as "solar panels" on the three pigs' house, will require explanation, and the conceit works best with youngsters already familiar with the stories. As an original approach to fairy tales, this one fairly misses the mark.—C. J. Connor, Campbell County Public Library, Cold Spring, KY
Kirkus Reviews
Busy illustrations, humorously fractured fairy tales and a simple pattern that encourages audience participation ensure that this will see repeat readings. Each set of two double-page spreads is dedicated to a different fairy tale: Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Goldilocks. But these are not your traditional stories. "Sticks? / Yes. / Straw? / Yes. / Bricks? / Yes. / Solar panels? / Nooooo!" A turn of the page unveils an unconventional scene—brick house outfitted with solar panels, wolf campaigning for wind energy and pigs working in their organic garden: "Well, maybe." Other wackiness includes wolves at a beauty salon, Jack's giant as a waiter in a spaghetti restaurant and a disco Cinderella. By beginning with Codell's creative less-is-more setup, Chavarri's illustrations end by stealing the show. Her brightly colored digital artwork is full of so many funny details that children will find something new with each re-reading. This will certainly keep kids on their toes as they try to guess what is coming—no maybes about that. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.10(w) x 10.20(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Esmé Raji Codell is the author of the bestselling Educating Esme, a memoir about her first year teaching in Chicago, as well as several books for children, including Sahara Special and Seed by Seed. You can visit her at PlanetEsme.Blogspot.com.

Elisa Chavarri is an illustrator and artist working from Alpena Michigan where she lives with her brave husband Matt, sweet daughter Lucia, crazy cat Tibbs, and silly dog Pancho. Elisa attended Savannah College of Art and Design where she earned a degree in Animation. She is a native of Lima, Peru. You can visit her at ElisaChavarri.com.

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