Back to obsessing over fairy tales…this week has been a bit extra special though. On Monday evening I joined the British Library in their event about a series of books called A Fairy Tale Revolution. Currently four books are published, re-imagined by authors of great talent.
- Duckling written by Kamila Shamsie
- Hansel and Greta by Jeanette Winterson
- Cinderella Liberator by Rebecca Solnit
- Blueblood by Malorie Blackman
That event has inspired me to pick up a recent arrival and re-read some other twists and re-tellings of fairy tales. David Roberts and sister, Lynne Roberts-Maloney have taken some classic fairytales and re-imagined them historically. With cultural and historical references as well as the extraordinary illustrations, these tales have new life and new relevance for readers.
This hard back book features three fairy tales set in historical time periods from the Art Deco 20’s through to the 50’s rock and roll, then into the 70’s platform shoes!
Roberts and his sister invite the reader back in time to meet Greta (Art Deco Cinderella), Rapunzel (Rock and roll 50’s) and Annabel (70’s Sleeping Beauty). Each story is charming and wonderfully illustrated in the style of era the story is set within.
With the same story at it’s core- greedy and selfish step sisters, sleeping on cinders, a magical transformation- this story has a stylish new fashion sense. Flapper dresses and dances, pointy shoes and short curled hair take this story into a dramatic era of parties, girl power and the beginning of technology in the home…for Cinderella hears news of the ball from the radio!
Platform shoes, bell-bottoms and funky hair form the fashion sense for this 70’s inspired story. Rapunzel lives in a tower block and her Aunt Edna, of considerable size, calls for the long plait to be thrown over the balcony to aid her rise to the top. The lift is broken and there were hundreds of stairs. A handsome guitar player plays the role of Prince and saves Rapunzel from living on the streets.
One girl wants to see the future and another wants to experience the past. No men feature in this story- a young girl discovers the tale of Sleeping Beauty in the library and rushes to wake her before the curse takes her forever. The 50’s saw children and teens imagining a very different future, and due to the kindness of her aunts in protecting her, Sleeping Beauty gets to see if for herself.
Clearly an impressive amount of research into style, architecture, accessories was put into these stories and they have an air of freshness and vibrancy to them. Children may be surprised to know some of us have lived through these eras and can relate to the toys, homes, clothes and architecture.
“Delightfully Different” indeed and a welcome addition to my fairy tale packed shelves!