Fairy Tale Adaptations

Do you remember the first time that you heard the story of Cinderella? Climbed up Rapunzel’s tower? Cheered three little pigs to victory over the Big Bad Wolf? These stories have remained popular for hundreds of years after their original publications. Since then, many authors have created their own editions of these classic tales. The Education Library at the University of Saskatchewan has created a guide to Fairy Tales which offers the following definitions to help classify these new renditions:*

Adaptation: Any translation nor re-telling of a folk or fairy tale. The original story is usually altered to some degree. For example, characters may be changed, the ending may be softened, the language may be simplified, dialogue may be added or subtracted, and new illustrations may create a different mood.”

Fractured Fairy Tale: A re-working of a traditional fairy tale that retains familiar elements such as characters and plot, but alters the story in unexpected ways, often with a contemporary “spin” or ironic twist.”

Version: A distinct rendering of an original story. Different versions of the same tale are usually associated with a particular author and country of origin. For example, the original French version of Cinderella, Cendrillon, was published by Charles Perrault in 1697; the German version by the Brothers Grimm, Aschenputtel, was first published in 1812. Most modern-day English language translations of the Cinderella story are adapted from one of these versions.”

Variant: A tale bearing resemblance in theme, motifs, or tale type to another, but which has its origin in another culture.”

*”Fairy Tales and Folk Tales” University of Saskatchewan Library (http://library.usask.ca/education/files/Guides/fairy.pdf)
The following award-winning authors have created a number of fractured fairy tales, versions, and adaptations:

Robin McKinley. This award winning science fiction/fantasy author has written a number of adaptations of stories such as Beauty and the Beast (Beauty; Rose Daughter), Sleeping Beauty (Spindle’s End), and collections of shorter adaptations (A Door in the Hedge). Additional titles can be found by searching for this author in the UIUC online catalog.

Gail Carson Levine. Best known for her fractured Cinderella story Ella Enchanted (a Newberry Honor book) Levine, has also written many other fractured stories and adaptations including Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep (Sleeping Beauty), The Fairy’s Mistake (Toads and Diamonds), and The Princess Test (The Princess and the Pea). Titles can be found by searching for this author in the UIUC catalog.

Donna Jo Napoli has set several of her adaptations in exotic locales. These include a version of Beauty and the Beast set in Persia (Beast), and an adaptation of the Chinese variation of Cinderella (Bound). Other works include Prince of the Pond (The Frog Prince), Spinners (Rumplestiltskin), and Ugly (The Ugly Duckling). Additional titles can be found by searching for this author in the UIUC catalog.

Roald Dahl has created two collections of traditional fairy tales adapted and set to verse. Vile Verses and Revolting Rhymes can be located using a title search in the UIUC catalog.

Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicles is a series of four novels following the adventures of Princess Cimorene, a young woman who doesn’t always play by traditional fairy tale rules. While not an adaptation or fractured retelling of traditional fairy tales, Wrede pokes plenty of fun at a number of fairy tale “stereotypes” (who ever heard of a witch that didn’t melt in water, or a magic carpet covered in pink teddy bears?). The books in the series, Dealing With Dragons, Searching for Dragons, Calling on Dragons, and Talking to Dragons, along with other titles by this author, can be located using the UIUC catalog.

Looking for more? Follow the links below to find additional titles of adapted and fractured fairy tales:

Fractured Fairy Tales (Longwood Public Library, New York)

Fairy Tales Retold for Teens (Evanston Public Library, Illinois)
(Information compiled by graduate assistant Jennifer Erbach; updated links 12.20.2010)