Saturday, February 9, 2013

Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses

Koertge, Ron. 2012. LIES, KNIVES, AND GIRLS IN RED DRESSES. Ill. by Andrea Dezsö. Somerville, Massachusetts: Candlewick Press. ISBN 978-0-7636-4406-2. [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

Princesses are kissed, witches are outsmarted, children are rescued, hearts are won…and Ever After is achieved.  

Happily Ever After, right?
Not so fast.

In mesmerizing blank verse, Ron Koertge offers up a real world aftermath to twenty-three traditional tales. This collection differs from many other fractured fairy tales or modern twists in its bleak and realistic outlook.  Some characters, such as Rapunzel’s prince, battle ennui, boredom, and perhaps depression. Others, such as the boy who pointed out the Emperor’s lack of clothing, become who they once mocked. Many of the tales take on a decidedly dark twist, with the characters battling even more evil than was present in the original stories. 

Dezsö’s stark black and white art is as macabre as the writing. Death is personified several times over, and despite the lack of color on all but the cover, blood drips from and onto the bodies of many a character. 

Koertge seems to reference some of the older versions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, which were more grisly than today’s commonly retold variants.  Pair this book with readings of older versions of relevant tales. 

Fractured fairy tales for young adults in novel form:
Flinn, Alex. BEASTLY. ISBN 9780060874162
Meyer, Marissa. CINDER. ISBN 9780312641894
Napoli, Donna Jo. BOUND. ISBN 0689861753

By Sarah Dornback

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