Picture Book Month: Folk and Fairy Tales

Using the Picture Book Month Calendar, I am going to post five favorite picture books of mine for each day of November. Today’s theme is folk and fairy tales.

There’s magic in the words “Once Upon a Time.” It’s the sort of magic that promises wonder in the coming minutes, whether one is listening to a story or reading it. What’s coming could be cruel. It could be harrowing. The characters may have to rely on their wits or an obscure cure to a curse. There could be witches in disguise, men cursed into animal form, wolves, dancing or gingerbread houses. What there will not be is any definition of the word ordinary.

Part of the appeal of fairy tales and folk tales is that they can be told in so many different ways. Settings can be switched; parodies created to make the reader laugh. They can be placed in modern times. They can be seen through a different culture. Elements of different tales can be woven together.

I love reading fairy tales or fairy-tale based stories. As a reader, I need to explore more picture book versions of these tales because I tend to gravitate toward middle grade and YA fairy tales (Like Shannon Hale’s Books of Bayern, Holly Black’s Tithe, Gail Carson’s Levine’s books, Michael Buckley’s Sisters Grimm and Alex Flinn’s Beastly). I also enjoy trying to write fairy tales (A penguin version of Little Red Hen anyone?)

Here are some of the picture books I enjoy:

1. Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse by Marilyn Singer is a fun book that shows different takes on familiar characters and stories in poems that can be read two ways.

2. Dear Peter Rabbit by Alma Flor Ada. Many different fairy tale characters plus some of the Peter Rabbit characters write letters to one another.

3. Kiss Me I’m a Prince by Heather Mcleod is a funny, fractured-fairy-tale sort of story about a girl who doesn’t instantly kiss the frog to make him a prince again because she finds frogs more interesting.

4. Sister Bear by Jane Yolen is a lovely retelling of a Norse myth.

5. Rough-Face Girl by Rafe Martin is an Algonquin tale similar to Cinderella that I discovered in college.

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