Monday, January 13, 2014

A Twist in the Fairy Tale!

I have always had and made known my reservations about the relevance of certain fairy tales to the kids of today.  Fairy tale classics may have held the fascination of kids of the previous generations, but I am not sure if they still do hold the same charm with the current generation, given the wide ranging genre of children’s literature today. At the same time, I find that there is an increasing trend these days to turn around an age old fairy tale and adapt the same to suit contemporary beliefs and ideologies. While it still may revolve around the protagonist like Cinderalla or the Sleeping beauty…..your little one may be delighted to find that Cinderalla too has certain issues with “sharing” or “stage fright”….something that your little princess can relate much better to! So it may still be a princess story but not a damsel in distress waiting to rescued by a Prince Charming only to happily married soon after  …which now we (grown up princesses) know …..if only things were as simple as that…..isnt it??


Every once in while, you may come across a title that owes its basic idea to a fairy tale, but don’t be deceived … may just be unlike any fairy tale you’ve ever read. So when I found “Goldilocks and just one Bear” by Leigh Hodkinson, I had to pick it up. This book is like a sequel to the original fairy tale, and about the little bear (from Goldilocks and the three bears) who is now all-grown up and enters the concrete jungle (that resembles a big city downtown) and barges into “Snooty towers” as he is  quite lost in the big city. As he steps into the elevator the building, unknowingly the elevator takes him to the topmost floor and he enters a swanky roof-top apartment, away from the noise...and just like in the fairy tale finds the food, couch, and the bed meant  for the little member of the family just right and dozes off therein. Just then a family of father, mother and a little girl walk in to find everything messed up and a bear sleeping in the little one's bed. But it soon turns out that the mother person and the bear recognise each other as the former has had a similar experience in the bear's house as little Goldilocks! So the grown up Goldilocks offers the grown-up not-so-little bear a big bowl of porridge which is neither hot, nor cold but is just right. It made the grown-up-not-so-little bear almost forget about that once-upon-time when Goldilocks had behaved so badly in the bear household. Although the now- grown-up-not-so-little bear has a nice time with grown-up Goldilocks and her family, the bear decides to finally head home to the forest, after all it is his home sweet home!  

Another such book that turns around the “Sleeping beauty” into a charming tale of a poor prince is “Sleeping Nasty” by Tony Bradman and illustrated by Richard Watson that also doubles as an early chapter book by the White wolves series by A & C Black London.  Prince Oscar is a prince who wants to explore the world but is disappointed when asked to go looking for a rich princess to marry so that his royal family would be uplifted from state of royal penury. Though reluctant prince, a dutiful son that he is to his parents, Oscar sets off on a bride-finding adventure. Oscar searches everywhere but cannot find the right princess. Either they are married or didn’t want to talk to him. Then one sunny afternoon, he meets an old shepherd who tells him about the sleeping beauty, a princess who has been sleeping for over hundred years as a bad fairy had cast a spell on her that can only be broken by a prince’s kiss. Oscar thinks this to be an ideal proposition and heads off to find her. As he enters the castle, braving the hedge of thorns, he finds the castle spooky and dingy with a few people having fallen asleep in the middle of whatever they had been doing. At last he finds the princess who is snoring and even has a bit of dribble running from her mouth. As he kisses her, the princess opens her eyes, she yells "Who are you and what took you so long"? Oscar was hoping for meet a grateful princess, but instead finds her bad-tempered and mean.  As she heads out to meet her parents to tell them of the news, he finds that her parents too are snooty and bad tempered and didn't think too much of him. Just then a fairy appears who turns out to be the bad fairy who had cursed the princess earlier and consequently suffered ignominy and isolation amongst other fairy colleagues. So in an attempt at atonement, she decides to help people and not harm them and thus to help Oscar whom she sees as needing some desperate measures!  So Oscar wishes for the sleeping nasty to be put back to sleep till she is “a bit nicer” and wishes that his parents were to be rich once again so that he is free to do what he likes. So Oscar travelled the world and saw wonderful sights and met lots of interesting people, including a princess who was beautiful as well as sweet natured and they were married off in a week. This goes to show that things never turn out quite as you might think! A great message to start the new year with …don’t you think?:-)


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