Let's fracture some fairy tales, folks!
Fractured fairy tales are nothing new. From way back in the 1960's comes historic proof:
Obviously there's staying power in fractured fairy tales. So, how exactly do you make a fairy tale dance to a different tune? Here are just three of the moves you can do to change a fairy tale or childhood story/rhyme.
The Two-Step (or Three-Step, Four-Step, Five-Step, ...)
Take a short, simple childhood rhyme or story and add to it, expand it. The crucial factor is to assure that the expansion has a story arc to it that will propel the reader forward. Jim Aylesworth has written picture books in this vein.
THE COMPLETED HICKORY DICKORY DOCK begins with the well-known verse and then the author extends it by following the mouse through twelve hours of the day. The book is written in verse, each stanza opens with a fun-to-say nonsense word. The reader can count up the hours as the mouse moves through the day.
THE TRUE STORY OF THE 3 LITTLE PIGS by Jon Scieszka is a well-known example of a fractured fairy tale. The story is relayed by the wolf, who tells the "true" story of what happened with the pigs from his point of view. According to him, the whole misunderstanding was about a cup of sugar and a case of the sneezes. If you'd like to try writing something similar, take the "bad guy" of a story and examine events from his/her point of view, being sure to add lots of emotion. How does that change the story?
NINJA RED RIDING HOOD by Corey Rosen Schwartz. Corey has written a Ninja trilogy; each one combines a childhood tale with ninja training. The limerick verses in this one are terrifically catchy, and the author manages to work in traditional lines (e.g. "The better to see you with, my dear") with seeming effortlessness. She also dares to even out the match between Wolf and Red -- they've both had ninja lessons! Someone else shows up in a gi to help save the day. To twist like Corey does, select a well-known childhood story and add an element that kids are crazy about. Tara Lazar's "500+ Things that Kids Like" is a great source for brainstorming.
What might happen if you mash together a whole bunch of tales or characters?
Tara Lazar's LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD is one-part twist and one part mash up. It begins with an amazing title. Obviously "gliding" implies that Red is doing something special -- she's skating. Tara sets a goal for Red that reflects the title. What would a skater want? Why, to win a skating competition, of course. This storyline propels the reader through the story (on a ribbon of ice). But the author adds SO much more! Easily recognized characters are peppered throughout the story, and the feared big bad wolf is not-so-bad after all. Cleverness and puns abound.
The tale in INTERRUPTING CHICKEN by David Ezra Stein combines several childhood stories, but doesn't really scramble them up. As Papa Chicken reads his Chick a bedtime story, Chick keeps interrupting the stories by jumping in them to save characters from harm.
Penny Parker Klostermann (who won the Best in Rhyme award for THERE WAS AN OLD DRAGON WHO SWALLOWED A KNIGHT) has said that INTERRUPTING CHICKEN was one of the mentor texts for her upcoming mash up, A COOKED UP FAIRY TALE (Summer, 2017). For an interview with Penny about her use of mentor texts, see the interview here.
I hope these examples will give you some ideas for fracturing fairy tales. Start dancing, writers, and see what shakes out!
Fantastic post! Thanks for all the different ideas. I keep thinking that I want to try writing a fractured fairy tale, so I'm going to add this to my list of goals for 2016!ReplyDelete
Go for it, Kristi! I haven't written one either, so it's time to add it to my list, too. :)Delete
Excellent ideas! Thanks, Patti!ReplyDelete
Thanks to your post, I might try to fracture a tale again.ReplyDelete
As long as you don't fracture anything else, Kathy, now that you're living in the land of ice and snow again.Delete
Agreed! No falls or bone breaks for anyone!Delete
These are marvelous examples!ReplyDelete
Iza Trapani also puts interesting twists and extensions on nursery rhymes in her books, with a unique musical beat.
Thanks for introducing me to Iza Trapani, Cathy. Time to check out some more books!Delete
Yes, great examples. . .I plan to read these for ReFoReMo in March. And I love the 60’s video. What a riot!ReplyDelete
I spent about an hour watching the old Fractured Fairy Tales videos, Jarm. Oh, the perils of being an author!Delete
Patty, thanks for these fun examples, with video! I ddin't know about the Son jon & Hickory Dickory ones.ReplyDelete
You may enjoy looking at Rebecca Kai Dotlich & Jane Yolen's Wordsong title, GRUMBLES FROM THE FOREST, Fairy-Tale Voices With a Twist.
Fits a slightly different category than your engaging post, since it's 15 classic fairy tales, mixed up quite cleverly, rather than 1 story, redone.
This GRUMBLES is illustrated by an artist I've enjoyed meeting, Matt Mahurin (who is the hubby of children's author/artist Lisa Desimini.)
I'm going to be sending a link to this post to my writing partner Debra, who is currently working on her own fractured F.T.
Appreciations & HNY!
Jan, I love Grumbles from the Forest! What a great idea to include that book when talking about fractured fairy tales. Thanks for the heads up! And HNY to you, too. :)Delete
Excellent, Patricia! I will refer to this post in the ReFoReMo group! Thanks for your insight!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Carrie! Your December post about The Gingerbread Man Loose at Christmas by Laura Murray fits right in with this post. I love seeing what authors can do with old childhood stories.Delete
Oh, this was a fun read on a windy wintry day. Thanks, Patricia.ReplyDelete
Glad you're inside reading instead of out in the cold, Sherri.Delete
Thanks for a great post. I have some new books to check out.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Rosi. So many books, so little time...Delete
Fab post, Patty :) Thank you for sharing some great examples of fractured fairy tales!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Charlotte. I hope your writing is going well.Delete
Loved the post and the video! Thanks for the great examples Patricia.ReplyDelete
I'm glad you enjoyed it, Janie. Happy writing!Delete
What a wonderful post! Thanks so much for the tips.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Darlene! I'm so glad the GROG posts are helpful.Delete
Great post and examples.ReplyDelete
Thanks for this awesome list of examples! And thanks for the mention :)ReplyDelete
You rock, Penny!Delete
Great example i like thisReplyDelete