Week 8: Historical Fiction & Folktales

Little Red Riding Hood Folktale Variants:

Red

  1. Grimm, J., Grimm, W., Colum, P. & Scharl, J. (1972). Little Red-CapThe complete Grimm’s fairy tales. New York: Pantheon Books. ISBN: [originally recorded in Germany, 1812]
  2. Perrault, Charles. (1999). Little Red Riding Hood. Maria Tatar (Ed.), The classic fairy tales. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN: [originally recorded in France, 1697]
  3. Mi, Chiang. (1999). Goldflower and the bear. Maria Tatar (Ed.), The classic fairy tales. New York: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN: [originally recorded in China, 1979]

Little Red-Cap, originally recorded in German by the Grimm Brothers, Little Red Riding Hood, as written by Charles Perrault – originally for the amusement of the French court, and then for children – and Goldflower and the Bear, originally recorded by Chiang Mi in China, are all variants of a folktale most children around the world have grown up hearing. The Grimm version’s protagonist is the lesser-known “Little Red Cap,” and the huntsman saves both her and the grandmother, but Little Red Cap causes the ultimate demise of the wolf. Interestingly, another wolf tries to do the same thing, but she and her grandmother are wiser this time and outsmart this wolf. This question of gender roles, in which the man saves the women, but then the women save themselves, is not addressed at all in Perrault’s version. Although the title is the one most people have come to associate with this folktale, Perrault’s Little Red Riding Hood is gobbled up by the wolf and the tale ends, with a moral attached explaining that young girls must be wary of real-life wolves. Goldflower and the Bear differs a lot from the other two versions, with Goldflower as the protagonist and protector of her little brother, and “Granny,” in this version as a bear, trying to get inside the house. Known as “clever and brave” rather than “pretty and well-loved” like Little Red Cap/Little Red Riding Hood, this Chinese variant of the folktale has the girl outsmarting and eventually winning over the bear, who never gets to gobble her up.


Folktale Versions/Fractures:

Children’s Books:

  1. Evetts-Secker, Josephine. (2004). Little Red Riding Hood. Ill. Nicoleta Ceccoli. Cambridge, MA: Barefoot Books. ISBN: [Good for ages 5-9]
  2. Young, E., Stevens, J., Stevenson, N. (1989). Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood story from China. New York: Philomel Books. ISBN: [Good for ages 7-9]
  3. Holub, Joan. (2016). Little Red Writing. New York: Turtleback Books. ISBN: [Good for ages 6-9]
  4. Dahl, Roald. (1999). Little red riding hood and the wolf. Maria Tatar (Ed.), The classic fairy tales. NY: W.W. Norton & Company. ISBN: [originally pub. Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes] [Good for ages 8 and up]

According to Vardell, “…don’t assume that all traditional tales are suitable for young children just because they appear in picture book form. Many are complicated or sophisticated and more appropriate for an older child,” (p. 87). Although according to the CLCD, the three picture books I chose were good for kids ages 5 and up, I felt that Little Red Riding Hood and Lon Po Po were true to the folktale and would be good for read alouds, but their sometimes scary illustrations and questions might be more suited for a slightly older crowd of kids. Little Red Writing, on the other hand, teaches kids how to tell a story, which might be easier to learn and understand once the kids know how to read. And Roald Dahl’s poem, which would be fun to read aloud because it is funny (and gives Little Red Riding Hood more autonomy over the wolf), is definitely better for a slightly more mature audience who would be okay with her having a “wolfskin coat.”

Juvenile/YA Books:

AB

  1. Meyer, Marissa. (2013). Scarlet. New York: Feiwel and Friends. [Good for ages 12 and up]
  2. Hepperman, Christine. (2014). Poisoned apples: Poems for you, my pretty. New York: Greenwillow Books. [Good for ages 12/13 and up]

Although this class is dedicated to literature for children up to 6th grade, I found two contemporary pieces of literature that use fractured fairy tales to address mature themes that appeal to kids 12 years and up. Because their material is meant mostly for tweens, teens and young adults, I would conduct a booktalk about both so as to intrigue lovers of fairytales and folklore to more contemporary versions of the tale. According to Vardell, “Older children really enjoy the ‘fractured’ fairy tales in which authors have altered, parodied, or modernized the characters, setting, plots or language of more traditional well-known tales. The books are especially appealing for more advanced readers or older kids familiar with the basic versions,” (p. 91). Poisoned Apples is a collection of poems that combines well-known fairytales, like Little Red Riding Hood, with realistic, and sometimes dark, issues like eating disorders, body image and sexuality and is meant for teenage girls. Scarlet is one book in a series called The Lunar Chronicles that alters the original folktale into a still recognizable, but thoroughly modern version of the tale. The strong female protagonist, Scarlet, is searching for her missing grandmother and encounters a street fighter named Wolf who knows about her whereabouts; in this version, Scarlet and the Wolf are drawn to each other in a less ominous way.


References:

Grimm, J., Grimm, W., Colum, P. & Scharl, J. (1972). The complete Grimm’s fairy tales. New York: Pantheon Books.

Tatar, Maria. (Ed.). (1999). The classic fairy tales. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Vardell, S. (2014). Children’s literature in action. A librarian’s guide (2nd ed.). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

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