Not Just Another Fairy Tale

Retelling a classic story has been done time and time again. Just think of Romeo and Juliet or Cinderella, the essential elements of these two classic love stories are present in many stories that are told today; the boy-meets-girl-love-is-forbidden story and the unpopular-girl-meets-handsome-popular-guy story. I’m not saying that every love story has these same plot elements, but when you think about it, one has to wonder if it is actually true, are we just retelling the same essential story over and over again.

Recently there has been a resurgence of fairy tales in the media. For example, the film Snow White and the Huntsman was released this month and seems to be just one of many fairy tale related things to emerge. The show Once Upon a Time has catapulted the ever popular Grimm Fairy Tales into superstardom, making for pretty good television. Harper Collins also rereleased copies of those very same fairy tales late last year in one collection, called Once Upon A Time, with a foreword written by the creators of the TV show. Film and TV are industries that are prone to adaptations—hence the book-to-film or book-to-TV trend that has been surrounding us for the past couple of years. To me, it seems like there is very little originality left in the film world at the moment, I am hoping that my opinion will change in the years to come. Novels are the one medium that is never ending when it comes to adaptations. Writing allows for the imagination to grow in ways we never could imagine. Authors are at the mercy of their own imaginations and in my opinion, that’s the way it should stay.

There have been many book releases that seem to be getting a makeover, such as Snow White and Alice in Wonderland that are both illustrated by the very talented Camille Rose Garcia. These two books, although not adaptations, show the impact fairy tales have on our society and our need for these stories to be told over and over again. These drawings are haunting and extremely beautiful, and shed a whole new light on these two children’s classics. The Alex Flinn series that includes: Beastly, Cloaked, and Bewitching all got cover makeovers this past fall, taking on the ever popular girl-in-long-dress trend.

Creating a world that is based on another allows readers to find familiarity within the words yet still get that feeling of anticipation while reading. Last year YA author Heather Dixon released her novel Entwined to the world. The cover was gorgeous so I picked it up and read the flaps. It seemed interesting and I was intrigued by the world she was creating. But when I did a little digging on the book itself I realized that it was based on a German Fairy Tale called The Twelve Dancing Princesses. Although this fairy tale is quite unknown to a lot of people, it is still a very good retelling of a classic. Heather created a world filled with familiar elements that are consistent with the fairy tale world; Good and evil, Kings and Queens and an Enchanted Forest. All of these elements are familiar to us, and we get the idea that this is a world far from our own.

It is these familiar elements that draw readers in, for example, later this summer the YA adaptation of Peter Pan will be released. Tiger Lily follows Peter Pan and, you guessed it, Tiger Lily before Wendy and her brothers arrive. In this adaptation we see author Jodi Lynn Anderson take liberties with the classic tale. She weaves a love story between these two young adults, making her arranged marriage to a tribesman even more dangerous. Not only is the cover absolutely beautiful but from reading Jodi’s other novels Peaches and The Secret of Peaches, I am expecting this to be a great read.

Although fairy tales seem to be overwhelming the sense at the moment, and most likely will stick around for the foreseeable future, don’t forget what Angela Carter once said “Fairy tales, folk tales, stories from the oral tradition, are the most vital connection we have with the imaginations of the ordinary men and women whose labor created our world.” They are important for our culture and our imagination, we must embrace them and make sure generations upon generations immerse themselves in these stories and their many adaptations.

– Siobhan
Follow me on twitter @chevy27

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Canadian publishing professionals and bloggers. Looking for savvy readers to talk books with us!

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