Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved stories and the pictures that went with them. She loved imagining stories with herself as the heroine. Then the little girl grew up! Now she is an author who lives in London with her husband and two daughters. She keeps her love of stories, pictures, and imagination alive by sharing her favorite stories with her daughters and her writing with us. Rachael Mortimer is that grown-up “little girl.”
Rachael uses the “fractured fairy tale” approach to storytelling. A fractured fairy tale is a literary parody, an exaggerated retelling of a traditional story with a twist for comical effect. Changes in plot, events, characters, or setting add to the fun of storytelling and add more reasons to read the original fairy tales.
“Primary school-age children are ripe for enjoying literary parody, and fractured fairy tales are a great introduction. By this time, ideally at least, kids have listened to or read many of the classic old tales: “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,” et al.
It’s that familiarity with the original that makes reading or listening to a parody so satisfying — that feeling of being in on a joke. Your younger, less sophisticated sibling might not get it, but you know how this story is supposed to go, which makes it all the funnier when it goes off in a different direction.”
( Lee McLain, The Horn Book, “What makes a good fractured fairy tale?,” May 21, 2015)
See how many changes you can spot in Rachael’s retelling of Little Red Riding Hood in our story walk book, Red Riding Hood and the Sweet Little Wolf. Then enjoy her version of several other fairy tale classics. What if the 3 Billy Goats Gruff were named Fluff instead? What if the troll was just a little noise sensitive and not mean at all? What if Sleeping Beauty had a major snoring problem?
The “what if” changes to traditional fairy tales can be engaging and fun, inviting both young and old readers to invent their own “what if” versions. As McLain points out, the foundation of the traditional story is important to appreciating the comic version of the fractured fairy tale. You can create a wonderful reading experience with the traditional stories and their “fractured” cousins.
Rachael Mortimer’s books are special treasures to search for in our local libraries, so if you enjoy discovering them in our collection, please let your favorite librarian know.
Story Walk: RED RIDING HOOD AND THE SWEET LITTLE WOLF