Monday, November 26, 2012

The Book That Jack Wrote

The Book that Jack Wroteis Jon Scieszka's adaption of the nursery rhyme, The House that Jack Built.

With the assistance of Daniel Adel's beautiful illustrations, Sciesaka creates a story that is slightly different from the one most of us remember from the traditional nursery rhyme. He leaves out a few characters, changes a few, and adds a few to create a little different take on Jack's story. We visit with Humpty Dumpty, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, and a few other familiar characters on our journey through Jack's rhyme.

I found myself going back to check the original language because I could not remember everyone who had been to Jack's house and I wanted to see how it compared to the situation with Jack's book.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Giants Have Feelings, Too

Giants Have Feelings, Too: Jack and the Beanstalk Retold (Another Point of View)is another Dr. Alvin Granowsky Point of View book published by Steck-Vaughn. The format continues with the traditional Jack in the Beanstalk Story told on one side and the giant's story told when you flip the book upside down.

One thing I noticed as I reviewed this book is the font and the illustrations are very different for the two stories. The illustrations in Jack's stories are bright and vivid. The font is very traditional. The Giant's story has more of a cartoon style and a different font designed to set the story apart.

Any child who has heard the story of Jack in the Beanstalk will be familiar with the traditional version. The second tale ponders questions that have been raised for generations. Is Jack a hero or a thief? Was it OK for Jack to steal from the Giants and because they were giants? Since the story is told from the Giant's perspective, it does not begin with the magic beans and the cow, but with the first encounter between Jack and the Giants. The Giant's wife makes a very clear case that she and her husband Herbert were taken advantage of by Jack and as a result lost all of the treasures they accumulated through hard work and sacrifice. She even expresses hope at one point in the story that Jack's mother will not want her boy to prosper from stealing and have him return what he has stolen.

This book would be the basis for a very lively debate even among older children who may believe they are past the age for reading fairy tales. The issues are very interesting and some students may never have considered the questions raised by the Giant's wife.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Petite Rouge A Cajun Red Riding Hood

In Petite Rouge (Picture Puffins)Mike Artell retells the story of Red Riding Hood with animal characters and a Cajun setting.

Red Riding Hood, or Petite Rouge, is a goose who sets off with the traditional goodies to visit her sick grandmother. We meet not a wolf, but Claude the Gator, who also appears in Artell's Three Little Cajun Pigsas the villan.

Claude is no more successful with Red than he was with the pigs. There is also no vengeful woodcutter to kill the gator. Claude is distracted from his desire to eat Red and her grandmother after Red gets him to eat a bottle of hot sauce.

Artell has created another cute alternate fairy tale. Claude the gator makes an interesting substitute for the Big Bad Wolf.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Frog Prince Continued

The Frog Prince, Continued (Picture Puffin)answers the question what happens after the book tells us they lived happily ever after.

The Frog Prince is troubled. His princess is not happy with him and he wants to become a frog again. He heads out into the world seeking a witch who can grant his request. First, he meets the witch from Sleeping Beauty who seeks to prevent him from waking the Princess, so he has to escape from her. Along the way, he meets the witches from Snow White and Hansel and Gretel. Knowing his fairy tales the Prince keeps moving. Finally, he finds the fairy Godmother from Cinderella who offers to help him. Instead, she turns him into a carriage and he is terrified this will be his life. Instead, the curse wears off at midnight and realizing his good fortune he hurries back to his princess who has been worried about him. He kisses the princess and his wish is granted for both of them.

As a fan of the The Frog Princess (Tales of the Frog Princess series)I thought it was great to see a picture book that addressed some of the same challenges of transforming from frog to man.

Monday, November 5, 2012

What Really Happened to Humpty

What Really Happened to Humpty? (Nursery-Rhyme Mysteries)
is one of the best nursery rhyme adaptations I have read yet.

Humpty has fallen. Police Chief Mother Goose has given Humpty’s brother Joe Dumpty until 5PM to find evidence of a crime or she plans to write it up as an accidental fall. Joe is convinced his brother’s fall has something to do with his recently acquired position as neighborhood watchman. As Joe proceeds to interview witnesses and potential suspects he becomes even more convinced his brother’s fall was no accident.

Those familiar with nursery rhymes and fairy tales will appreciate the blend of characters in this tale and perhaps even start to put the plot together before the culprits are revealed to the reader. In this version Humpty does recover due to modern technology and medical knowledge gained from Jack’s broken crown. Joe Dumpty makes a wonderful fairytale detective for young readers. I wish I had this book when I was doing fairy tale trials with my fourth grade students.

My main disappointment is while the end of the story hints that Joe may have more stories to tell, it does not appear that anything has been published since 2009. I would love to see more Joe Dumpty books on the market. Updated the Crown Affair debuted in February of 2015.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Adelita a Mexican Cinderella

Tomi dePaola retells the story of Adelitathe Mexican Cinderella using his distinctive illustrations and adding Spanish words to give the reader a more cultural feel for the story.

This version shares many of the characteristics most children associate with Cinderella, but there is no footwear in this version. Cinderella's mother dies in childbirth. As she reaches her young adult years, her father remarries a woman with two daughters. I always find it interesting how the widow always seems to have one or two daughters, never three. In this version, she has a beloved servant that has been with the family since her birth. As her stepmother forces her to become a servant, she sends Esperanza away. Even when the woman offers to work for no wages, the stepmother senses she could cause trouble and forces her to leave.

When Dona Micaela discovers the Gordillo's will be hosting a party for all the local families and it is expected their son Javier will be seeking a bride, we have our required Cinderella ball. In this tale, Adelita is banned from attending. The stepmother is taking no chances in setting impossible tasks that might be achieved. When the family leaves, Esperanza arrives and uses the hidden key for Adelita's mother's trunk to provide her with a dress and a beautiful red shawl. Esperanza drives Adelita to the ball in a cart and she has a wonderful evening. In this version, she and Javier knew each other as children. She is afraid to tell him the truth about her circumstances and flees to Esperanza leaving nothing behind. Her prince sets off in search of her.

She puts the shawl out the window to attract him to the house and then dresses in the outfit she wore to the dance. When he arrives, the other daughters try to attract his attention. When she arrives dressed as before, he only has eyes for her. The family is invited to the wedding, but only Esperanza is invited to live with them.