fractured fairytales—a great way to shake up stale thoughts and ideas

If Goldilocks has to go back and apologise to the Three Bears, or if Belle decides she needs to go to university after seeing the Beast’s magnificent library, or if Jack enters into a partnership with the Giant and they build a theme park in the clouds…. you’re probably enjoying a fractured fairytale!

Fractured fairytales are a lot of fun to read and tell and there are all sorts of benefits besides the fun factor. They're great for:

Playing with imagination – to tell a story in a new way requires lots of imagining the ‘edges’ of the original, lots of noticing details and lots of filling in the blanks. When a picture book does these things it can cause us to quickly re-imagine the scene.

Listening skills – it’s tricky sometimes to spot the moment when the fairy tale ‘fractures’ and, by introducing new elements, listening carefully becomes even more important and more rewarding.

Cultural awareness – fracturing traditional stereotypes, which are often part of a fairy tale (the helpless princess, the headstrong prince etc), shines a light on things we might be taking at face value and gives us a chance to decide if those stereotypes are really good or if they are something we like, or if we want to change them.

Modelling a way out of a messy situation! – fairy tales sometimes have most unsatisfactory endings (especially in their original version!) and by fracturing the fairy tale that can all change. It’s a good way to reinforce that, just because something is a certain way, or has always been that way, it doesn’t have to stay that way.

Discussions about similar and different – which bits of the fairy tale stayed and which went etc.

Changing perspectives – fractured fairytales often invite the listener into the life of one of the minor characters or let us see the characters in a new way, a good thing to do in real life too.

Here are the bookseller links to a few current favourites:

Out of the Egg  - Tina Matthews

The Three Bears Sort Of – Yvonne Morrison

The Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas - Tony Wilson, illustrated by Sue deGennaro (our review)

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig - Eugenios Trivizas, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs - Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

Little Red Writing - Joan Holub, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Really, Rapunzel Needed a Haircut - Jessica Gunderson, illustrated by Denis Alonso

The Three Pigs - David Wiesner (here's his Caldecott medal acceptance speech)

Peepo - Janet & Allan Ahlberg

And, because it’s also great to tell a fractured fairytale without a book as a prop, we'll do a post next with a bunch of ideas to start you off on fracturing fairy tales yourself.