If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.–Albert Einstein, maybe.
Even if the Library of Congress can’t find the exact attribution of this quote, from our modern perspective it makes sense that an emphasis on creative thinking would come from such a great scientist. To those of us with an eye on the book world, it’s no surprise to read articles that fairy tale retellings have become a more and more popular subgenre in recent years. The familiarity of the stories gives authors and readers a common language with which to explore ideas and issues that have changed over the years.
Cinderella retellings have both reinforced (Disney’s 1950 film, Cinderella) and challenged gender roles (Jen Wang’s The Prince and The Dressmaker). They also imagined escaping the ways we are forced to make ourselves small and useful (Rebekah Weatherspoon’s If the Boot Fits). While the fairy tale princesses may make the most noise, the grittier fairy tales have gotten their retellings too. China Mieville and Terry Pratchett have both retold The Pied Piper of Hamelin story in very different ways.
As big readers, a lot of us grew up with fairy tales in their many book and animated forms, and reviews of Marissa Meyer, Helen Oyeyemi and more show us that you’re still enjoying them. Behind the scenes at CBR, we are looking at them too because September 17 and 18 the Cannon Book Club plans to discuss fairy tales and their adaptations. There are just. so. many! So we ask you to join in the discussion:
- Which retellings do you think bring something fresh and interesting to familiar stories?
- What are your early memories of fairy tales?
- Which fairy tale has inspired your favorite retellings?