Sunday, August 19, 2012

Fractured Fairy Tales: Fun for All Ages, for All Readers...and the Common Core Standards

A Fractured Fairy Tale is a twisted, tweaked version on an older, familiar fairy tale that has been reworked to provide a different perspective.  While they are often fractured to be funny, there are many poignant fractured tales that have been retold to present a different political, moral, or historical angle. These tales are "fractured" because characters, settings. plots, and/or points of view and been 'broken' and 'reset' to entertain and inform the 'modern' reader.

The Rocky and Bulwinkle show and Jon Scieszka (The Frog Prince Continued -a retelling of The Frog Prince, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs - a retelling of The Three Little Pigs, and The Stinky Cheese Man - a retelling of The Gingerbread Man) immediately come to mind when I think of fractured fairy tales, although there are so many other incredible choices. This post lists some great fractured fairy tale suggestions for home/school reading for kids of all ages and I hope you leave your own favorites in the comments.

Aside from being powerful tools of entertainment, fractured fairy tales lend themselves to fabulous teaching as they present competing perspectives with other existing works, often add cultural perspectives, and provide an avenue for critical comparison and evaluation.

Fractured fairy tales are potent learning tools because:
  • they are motivating, inspiring and stimulating (both strong and reluctant) readers and writers to create their own fractured tales;
  • familiarity with a tale makes it easier to read because readers can anticipate words and plots,  and are familiar with the characters making them easier to understand;
  • writing and reading these tales involve creativity in having to take something familiar and 'twist' and 'tweak' it;
  • in order to successfully fracture a tale, the writer/story-teller must not only be familiar with the original tale, but must also understand character development, plot, story structure and have a facility with language;
  • when kids create their own fractured tales they have an existing (familiar) template they can easily work with, allowing students to change and tweak select points of their choice;
  • these tales neatly meet the new Core Curriculum Standards as
    • Fractured fairy tales require readers to read closely as they compare and contrast key ideas and details of the various story versions.
    •  Fractured fairy tales require readers to understand the craft and structure of the tales.  When asking students to write their own tales, they must first understand the basic story and its underlying structure before successfully creating their own.
    • Fractured fairy tales require readers and writers to integrate their own ideas with the ideas presented in the original version to create a cohesive 'fracture' of the tale
    • Fractured fairy tales allows students to play within a range of reading and level of text complexity
    • Fractured fairy tales can serve as a wonderful vehicle integrating language arts, history, and science in creative, interactive multi-modal medium.
The best reason to read and use fracture fairy tales:  THEY ARE PURE FUN: They are cognitive puzzles that lace language, culture, history, creativity and the arts in one neat package.  Who doesn't like a great fractured fairy tale???

Here are some fractured fairy tale suggested readings for readers of all ages:

The Three Little Pigs
  • The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka - Picture book for all ages- this is the classic story from the Wolf's perspective...and it all started with a sneeze!
  • The Three Little Wolves and the Bid Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas and Helen Oxenbury - Picture book (Picture book - Grades 1-5)
  • The Three Pigs by David Wiesner.  Caldecott Medal Book. (Picture book - Grades 2-5)
  • BB Wolf and the Three LPs as told by JD Arnold with illustrations by Richard Koslowski (graphic novel, Grades 10+) provides plenty of twists to this story for teens and older. In this tale, the wolf is a Southern farmer by day (living in Money, Mississippi, 1920) and blues musician at night until the PPP try to buy wrangle his family farm. While built on the story of the Three Little Pigs, this is an excellent allegory that touches on the Delta Blues, the Klu-Klux-Klan, the Jim Crow laws of the South, and the powerful effect of segregation and discrimination.  This is also an excellent lesson of how history is written by the more powerful or victorious.  
  • Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story From China by Ai-Ling Louie (Picture book Grades 2-6). 
  • Seriously, Cinderella is SO Annoying! The Story of Cinderella as Told by the Wicked Stepmother (Other Side of the Story) by Trish Sue Speed Shaskan and Gerald Guerlais. (Picture book grades K-3)
  • Prince Cinders by Babette Cole (Picture book Grades 3-6)
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer (Chapter book -TEENS) Cinder is the best machanic in New Beijing - a girl with serious know-how and guts...and she's a cyborg who takes charge of her life and invests in her own rescue and save the prince.
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine - Ella is cursed with 'obedience' and must do all that her step mother and stepsisters command.  She too takes matters into her own hands, however, as she tries to free herself of the curse and live happily ever after with her prince.  (Newbery Honor Chapter book Grades 4+)
  • Rapunzel: A Groovy Fairy Tale retold by Lynn Roberts, illustrated by David Roberts. (Picture book - Grades 2-6)
  • Rapunzel by Rachel Isadora - the Rapunzel story told in a lush African setting.  (Picture book - Grades K-5)
  • Rapunzel by Jessica Kaye - chapter book; story with a twist (Grades 4-8)
  • Tangled - Disney - while a popular Disney movie, you can also find this in book format.
Little Red Riding Hood
  • Red Riding Hood (retold by James Marshall) - Picture book (Grades K-3)
  • Little Red Riding Hood.  Into the Forest Again by Shaunda Kennedy Wenger. (Chapter book with some illustrations - Grades 3-6)
  • Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten: The Story of Little Red Riding Hood as Told by the Wolf (The Other Side of the Story) by Trisha Speed Shaskan. (Picture book for all ages)
  • Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young. Caldecott Medal winner. (Picture book Grades 2-6)
Sleeping Beauty
  • Sleeping Ugly by Jane Yolan (Picture book Gr. 2+) is a wonderful twist about a beautiful but horrible princess named Miserella, a young woman of the woods named Plain Jane, and an infuriated fairy who turns all their lives upside-down.
  • Briar Rose by Jane Yolen (Chapter book Gr. 6+) is a brilliant retelling of Sleeping Beauty. This is a serious story about 'Becca who must research her Grandmother's dying wish and unravel the scary version of Sleeping Beauty her grandmother told her as a child. In her search, Becca unravels the horrors of the Holocaust. I have used this in language arts and history classes.
  • Below is a YouTube presentation of "Leaping Beauty" a fractured fairy tale featured in The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.  What is so particularly awesome (aside from the ridiculous number of puns and word play) is how language usage has changed since this first aired in 1960's, and there are so many ways teachers and parents can 'depart from the text' to talk about language usage and how it changes over time. For example, you might discuss the use of "gay," "broom out of here," and "bore" versus "boar." There is also wonderful use of alliteration (for example"from my magic medium come ennui and tedium..") and the use of rhyme to entertain:
Other notable fractured Tales:
  • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang (graphic novel - Grades 5+) incorporates the retelling of one of the oldest Chinese Fables, the Monkey King, with two other stories - one about Wang, the only Chinese American in his school and the other about his cousin Chin-Kee the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype who comes to visit him. This book brilliantly weaves American and Chinese cultural issues and is a great 'coming of age' story and is all about cultural heritage. It is an Eisner Award winer, Michael L. Printz Award Winner, and National Book Award Nominee. Here is a super glimpse into the book and its background:
  • New Fangled Fairy Tales: Classic Stories with a Funny Twist tales by a collection of authors, edited by  Bruce Lansky. In this collection the reader will meet King Midas (a workacholic banker who'd rather tend to his money than attend his son's Little League baseball games); The Three Bears (who invade Goldy's home because theirs is being stripped as a new superhighway replaces it); Little Bad Wolf and Red Riding Hood, Jill and the Beanstalk, The Prince and the Pea, The Real Story of Sleeping Beauty, The Obsolete Dragon, The Frog Princess, Goldy Locks, and Rudy and the Prince. (Grades 4+)
  • Legally Corrrect Fairy Tales: Bedtime Classics Translated into the Legalese by David Fisher. This book contains Jack "Doe" and Jill "Doe" v. Imperial Bucket Corporation; Tailor v. Emperor Motion for Summary Judgement; Kingdom v. Hansel and Gretel; and Petition for Guardianship and Other Legal Relief in the Matter of Beauty, Sleeping; Re Snow White, Inc.; USA v. Wolf Deposition of Mr. Wolf; Humpty Dumpty v. King, King's Hospital, All of King's Horses, All of King's Men; Petitioners: Jack, George, Peter, Maria,, v. Estate of Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe; Oak V. Gepetto; Kingdom v. Prince Charming; Beauty v. Beast; Little Red Riding Hood v. Regal Pictures, Inc.; Frog Prince v. Wicked Witch, and Kingdon v. Goldilocks. These stories are in legalese and are an excellent source in comparing language and jargon.  (Chapter book - Grades 10 +)
  •  The Fire Rose by Mercedes Lackey. This is the first of her "Elemental Masters" series and an awesome read as it blends alchemy andmagic to the Beauty and the Beast story.  (Chapter book - Teens+)
  • Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods
Other Resources:


  1. Thank you for sharing these, Meryl. Your post brought back memories of Rocky and Bullwinkle and lots of laughs!

  2. I love these! The title of your book sounds really interesting. Congratulations on publishing it this year! I am a new follower from the hop. Feel free to stop by and see my classroom makeover for this year! :)


  3. I love fractured fairy tales, I want to read the true story of the little pigs. I'm following from the hop, I hope you have a great week.

  4. My kids and I love reading fractured fairy tales! We've read many that are on your list, but I'm writing down others to look for at the library tomorrow. My daughter and I are going to assign Ella Enchanted for her book club next month, and compare it with more traditional versions of Cinderella. It's so much fun to see the characters slipping out of their traditional roles.

  5. I love fractured Fairy Tales. There were a few of the stories I had not heard of. I will have to look for those. I have shared some with my daughter. They are so fun!

    Newest follower from the blog hop. Hop you can check out my blog at Stlavonlady - a cat, a girl, a man and me!

    Have a great night!! Julie

  6. I'm a new follower, your blog is awesome! I found you on GFC. I love the title of your blog!

  7. Interesting concept! I remember watching Into the Woods when I was younger. Thanks for sharing this with us at Trivium Tuesdays!

  8. Hello fellow I Love My Online Friends 'GFC' Hop-er! I actually recognize your blog from other blog hops. :) Please visit my blog, if you haven't already. (And follow.) Have a great week.


  9. Sounds interesting! I am a new follower from the I love my online friends blog hop and I'd love a follow back at when you get a chance! :)

  10. I love these!!
    Following you from the blog hop
    xo sandra

  11. so interesting to consider fairy tales from another perspective! Thanks for compiling all this!

  12. Love fractured fairy tales! Following you (from the Mom's Best Nest blog hop) and would love for you to follow me back. I look forward to getting to know you!

  13. A very cool blog! I'm your newest follower from "Flock Together" blog hop - I would love a follow-back if you get a chance:

  14. Sounds like fun! Albert Einstein said
    If you want your children to be brilliant, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be geniuses, read them more fairy tales.

  15. I always thought Wicked cf Wizard of OZ qualified.
    I grew up on Rocky & Bullwinkle, so I have a bias in favor of them.
    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

    1. It sure does!!! As I wrote, I put down some favorites (and hopefully less obvious ones) hoping you and other visitors would leave some of theirs. THANKS!! WIcked was awesomely fun as a book and a play and well worth the time to enjoy both!

  16. Great post. I enjoyed many different versions of fairy tales both as a child and with my daughter. Carver, ABC-Wed-Team

  17. I am SO IMPRESSED. Was looking to read up on this subject and here you are with such a great post. Thank you so much for sharing. Superb post!
    Mine is here
    Have you a ROCKING AND WEEK!!!

  18. Politically correctness? It's a wonder we turned out so "normal" when you consider what we were brought up on!

    denise ABC Team

  19. Wow that is quite some list. We have only read the little pigs one. I am going to have to look into the other ones.

    Happy WW!

  20. Best post I have read all day! I love a tweak,a twist and I am very sure that Fractured Fairy Tales had a lot to do with that. All your recommendations are perfect examples. I think I will twirl and skip to the kitchen now since the music from the 'tales is stuck in my head!

  21. Wow-quite the compendium of fractured fairy tales! That used to be one of our favorite cartoons. Even a young child appreciates the twist of adult humor that was infused in this cartoon.

  22. I always loved the true story of the three little pigs.

  23. My youngest son loves Tangled. I will have to explain to him that it is a "fractured fairy tale." Thanks (as always) for such an informative post. Have a great week!

  24. I never forget the delight I feel with "Once Upon a Time" Wow... more titles to check out and introduce the kiddo too. Thanks a lot.

  25. Great post.

    If you like fractured fairy tales, try this short version of Little Red Riding Hood with crazy jazz and Mia Farrow playing the long suffering wife of the wolf:

    Chris H
    ABC Wednesday
    F is for Far, Far Away

  26. My kids love story time and "Once Upon a time" is their favorite line.

    Rose, ABC Wednesday Team

  27. My daughter brought home The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs last year and we really enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing the other titles. I am sure we would like those too!

  28. I LOVE Fractured Fairy Tales! Sometimes I make them up on my own for our boys. :)

  29. Thanks,Meryl for this post about fractured fairytales. Very original for the use of F! I enjoyed seeing the video of the Leaping Beauty!
    Thanks for your visit. Yes, both Hebrew and French are used in the paintings.Have a great week.
    Wil, ABC Team.

  30. I've never heard of fractured fairy tale's before. How interesting. I think it would be more interesting to read a more modernized version of some popular ones.

    Happy WW and thanks for linking up :)

  31. Super great list. Thanks for compiling! This will be fun to find the books at the library and read with my kids.

  32. Fractured fairy tales always have a fun twist to them.

    Royalegacy Reviews & More

  33. I believe they are far too scary for me ;) But it was a nice touch though

  34. Fantastic suggestions! I can't wait to track down some of them. :D

  35. I've always loved the Three Little Pigs story from the Wolf's perspective! I'll have to check out some of the others. Thanks for such an expansive selection!

  36. I LOVED Fractured Fairytales! DO you remember the one about the town of Escrow? I only saw it once, it must have been pulled. The moral was "Never put your home in Escrow!"

  37. i never knew these books were labeled fractured fairytales. i've always loved reading them, especially in another character's point of view. i even wrote one myself. i'm very interested in Briar Rose by Jane Yolen. I added that to my reading list. thanks for visiting my blog and linking up with me! please come back and visit again!

  38. Another wonderfully informative post ~ great to see all the comments you are receiving ~ 'Carry On' ~ (A Creative Harbor)

  39. So interesting that the fairy tales have been used to tell some serious stories from history. A great way to learn. Grew up with Rocky and Bulwinkle, great series, it doesn't seem be shown on TV here now.

  40. We love The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. It's a hilarious book!! I am always making up little fractured fairy tales for my daughter, and she makes up a few herself. :)

  41. The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs was also a favorite of ours from a few years ago.

  42. I've never heard the term fractured fairytales but I guess I do that all the time when I read from my daughter's fairytale book. I try to put it in words she can understand or link it to situations that she can relate to. Great post! I'm your newest follower from the Aloha blog hop. Have a great weekend.

  43. Thank you so much for joining my party! Have an awesome weekend!

  44. A very excellent post. I am eager to start following your blog! Meanwhile, I would recommend John Branyan's version of the 3 Little Pigs, "Triune Tale of Diminutive Swine." the hilarious video, and this, to the book.

  45. How interesting. I have never taught this, and will try it out. Been teaching the Little Red riding hood, and would be interested how the children will take this.

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