FAIRY TALES

FAIRY TALES

GENDER SWAPPED FAIRY TALES by Karrie Fransman and Jonathan Plackett (Faber £20, 208pp)

GENDER SWAPPED FAIRY TALES

by Karrie Fransman and Jonathan Plackett (Faber £20, 208pp)

Once upon a time, Jonathan Plackett developed an algorithm that would simply swap the gender of the characters in traditional fairy tales to show how stereotypes have survived the generations of social change.

This fascinating experiment doesn’t alter a word of the original story sources, but from Handsome And The Beast to Jacqueline And The Beanstalk, it reveals how much attention is paid to the way girls and women look and how much to the ways boys and men act.

For those familiar with the stories it is startling, but for readers new to the tales it may simply be refreshingly entertaining.

DAVID ROBERTS’S DELIGHTFULLY DIFFERENT FAIRY TALES

(Pavilion £12.99, 104 pp)

David RobertS’s bold, cartoonish illustrations perfectly complement these three fun-filled stories, where a new setting and time period influence each adventure.

Cinderella shimmers as a 1930s Art-Deco, beaded, bejewelled, jazz-age flapper, whereas, in Rapunzel, we are in a 1970s world of high-rise flats, where she is courted by a school band singer on his Chopper bike.

A feminist Sleeping Beauty begins in the rock’n’roll 1950s, where records are played by a needle on a turntable (see where this is going) and no male characters are needed 100 years later to bring her back to life.

A FAIRY TALE REVOLUTION: CINDERELLA LIBERATOR by Rebecca Solnit (Vintage £12.99, 32 pp)

A FAIRY TALE REVOLUTION: CINDERELLA LIBERATOR 

by Rebecca Solnit (Vintage £12.99, 32 pp)

One in a series of fairytale re-imaginings by leading writers, this initially sticks fairly close to the original — although the step-sisters are described by their behaviour rather than as ‘ugly’ — but the life-affirming ending sees Cinderella start up a business and the prince freed from his constricting royal role.

Other titles include Blueblood, Malorie Blackman’s sinister retelling of Blackbeard, which takes gruesome revenge on coercively controlling men, Kamila Shamsie’s Duckling, which examines inclusivity and identity and Jeanette Winterson’s rather frenetic ecological morality tale of Hansel And Greta.

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