Sunday, January 22, 2006

An Undone Fairy Tale

Lendler, Ian. 2005. AN UNDONE FAIRY TALE. Ill. By Whitney Martin. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689866771 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

AN UNDONE FAIRY TALE begins like any standard fairy tale: “Once upon a time,” a princess kept locked in a tower by a mean stepparent. In this story, the mean stepparent is her stepfather and he keeps her locked away because she makes pies which her stepfather the king loves. The standard knights try to rescue her by performing the usual three dangerous tasks. No knight is successful. The story, however, takes an abrupt turn when Sir Wilber arrives. At this point the reader is introduced to Ned, the supposed illustrator as well as an unnamed narrator. Written in a different font, the narrator encourages the reader NOT to turn the page because Ned is not finished with the next illustration. Because Ned is never finished and the reader keeps ignoring the exhortation NOT to turn the page, the story changes according to what Ned has handy. No shark for the mote? Ned’s dog Trevor wearing a fin on his head serves as a hilarious stand-in. When Sir Wilbur is unable to rescue the princess because he falls through the hole in the floor -- which Ned had not finished -- the princess rescues herself and, riding a snail, leads a band of monkey knights against the king and his army of pickles and rescues Sir Wilbur. Meanwhile, Ned finally quits in frustration.

AN UNDONE FAIRY TALE is incredibly silly and great fun. The illustrations blend what should happen next in a standard fairy tale with what will have to happen next in this fairy tale almost flawlessly adding to the sense of absurdity. The narrator’s entreaties are so earnest that even adults knowing better will be tempted NOT to turn the page in order to give poor Ned more time to work!

Have readers create a picture book distorting a fairy tale of their choosing.

Kloske, Geoffrey. ONCE UPON A TIME, THE END. ISBN 0689866194.
Lansky, Bruce. NEW FANGLED FAIRY TALES. ISBN 0671577042

By Terri Moore

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