The power of fairy tales

Crossposted from Silk And Shadows

Currently working on: Finishing my Halloween candy
Mood: Bouncy!

This fall, two new series started, both using fairy tales as their jumping off point. As a reader, I’ve always ADORED fairy tales! Some of my first books as a kid were fairy tales books, many of them illustrated. I’m also interested in these series as a writer since I’m curious to see how the shows differ (or don’t) in handling the fairy tale elements.

GRIMM is about a cop who discovers he has inherited the ability — courtesy of his last name, Grimm — to see creatures no one else can see and now has the responsibility for destroying the bad creatures. So far, we’ve met big bad wolves (some of whom aren’t so bad, we learn) and werebears. There’s an overarching thread about a faction with witch-beasts seeking to destroy the Grimms forever.

The overall tone is dark. Probably because it’s filmed in my town of Portland where you have to bring your own sunlight. Basically, it’s a police procedural with fairy tale elements woven in.

The other series is ONCE UPON A TIME where the adult daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming must rescue the fairy tale people who are living amnesiac lives in “the real world” under the rule of an Evil Mayor/Queen.

Lighter in tone than GRIMM (at least the cute kid hasn’t been kidnapped YET) OUaT is more of a straight-ahead ensemble drama.

Is TV big enough for two fairy tales shows? They are so different, I hope they both survive. Not that any show I like will survive :( In a way, I think GRIMM will be easier to watch because every week can be a fun new creature. But what I like best about fairy tales is that they are meant to teach us lessons. Lessons about true love, following your dreams, not eating poison apples. And so far, ONCE UPON A TIME appears to be more faithful to that story behind the stories in fairy tales.

I think there are good reasons fairy tales are forever popular — namely, cute princes! But also the adventure, the overcoming of adversity, the cute princes… Hmm, sounds a lot like romance novels ;)

If you haven’t gotten your fill of fairy tales, here are a few books I’ve loved based on fairy tales I’ve loved:

BEAUTY by Robin McKinley

This is a “classic” retelling of Beauty and the Beast — a story I never, ever tire of reading — but we get to learn more about the heroine. And she’s a nerd! No, that’ s not quite true, but she isn’t beautiful, she’s actually plain and rather bookish (hmm, remind any of us about who we feared we were?) and actually very strong inside.

WICKED by Gregory MaGuire

If you’ve seen the musical but haven’t read the book based on a retelling of The Wizard of Oz (which technically isn’t a fairy tale, I guess, but it DOES have munchkins which are relatively fairy sized) now’s a good time. The last in the series is out now. Although less a classic retelling like BEAUTY above, we still get to learn more about the “heroine” in this version of the tale.

THE MISTS OF AVALON by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Hmm, I guess this one isn’t really a fairy tale either, but the stories of King Arthur have the same mythopoeic power so I’m counting it. I read this before I read the “real” version of Camelot and I’m afraid I could never think of Morgan as evil again.

All three of these books are especially fabulous for young readers because they twist and turn what we think we know of old stories into something new and wonderful and thought-provoking.

And THAT is a lesson worth learning.

Do you have a favorite fairy tale? Which favorites haven’t been retold enough?



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