Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Old Tales
Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Old Tales

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Annotation: With empathy and an ear for emotion, retells seven classic fairy tales in contemporary language that reveals both the pathos and humor of some of our most beloved stories.
Genre: Fairy tales
Catalog Number: #148792
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 94 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-7636-6558-4 Perma-Bound: 0-605-99153-7
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-7636-6558-6 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-99153-8
Dewey: 398.2
LCCN: 2017947995
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Subject Heading:
Fairy tales.
Fairy tales.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
In an author's note to this brief, charming collection, Jenkins mentions that her goal is not to reimagine classic fairy tales, but rather tell them in a way that honors the oral tradition of the original stories. In simple, straightforward narratives, she retells seven stories, some of which ("Snow White," "Red Riding Hood," "Hansel and Gretel") will be familiar to readers, while others ("Three Wishes," "Toads and Pearls," "The Three Great Noodles") will most likely be completely new. Jenkins' version of "The Frog Prince" expands somewhat in its characterizations, while the rest of the stories stick more or less to familiar territory. Though there's no real overlap between stories, they're loosely connected by setting ("There was once a forest; a strange forest, where it was always winter. You have heard of it before"), and each tale opens with a full-color postcard-style illustration that showcases that setting. Jenkins doesn't deviate much from the well-trod forest path, but she still puts a stamp on these stories that's all her own.
Kirkus Reviews
Folk and fairy tales intersect in tiny ways.Loosely organized in and around a frozen forest where "the streams were iced, the bushes bare" come seven classical tales. There are witches here, "some with cold hearts, and others with hot ovens and ugly appetites"; there is "beauty like an icicle—sharp and slippery." Parents die, and children either turn "bitter as walnuts" or stay "sweet as cherries." Each tale keeps mostly to itself, holding its integrity and recognizability—but they whisper to one another. A "sunny forest populated by bunnies and bluebirds" shows up more than once in contrast to the frozen one; the huntsman who slits open Red Riding Hood's wolf is "returning from a terrible errand," which hauntingly reveals that he's Snow White's huntsman too. Red's wolf inquires whether her grandmother lives "in the sugar house," a reference to "Hansel and Gretel." A dry, repeated lesson about beauty in character whisks past. Jenkins experiments with modern moral complexity by afflicting Red's wolf with painful hunger and self-hatred for how he sates it and by painting the Frog Prince's princess—who never gets to throw her frog against a wall—as problematically girly and spoiled. An old trope of blindness connoting evil remains. Humans are ostensibly white; a tree sprite is brown. Eason's illustrations seem consciously to evoke the work of Trina Schart Hyman. Subtly untraditional, with lovely prose. (author's note) (Fairy tales. 5-10)
Publishers Weekly
Fine, spare prose distinguishes these shrewd retellings of seven familiar tales. -Snow White- opens with a shiver: -There was once a frozen forest, cold as cold ever was.- Jenkins (Tiger and Badger) scarcely alters the stories; they end the way they generally do. Instead, she deepens and refines them, giving the characters humanity and individuality. When January, the queen in -Snow White,- looks in the mirror, she -wanted the mirror to show the face she had seen long ago, a face of smooth and shining ice.- Blunt, the only nonfool in a story about three fools, -felt quite lucky, suddenly, to have found a future wife so tenderhearted as Amity, noodle though she was.- The dialogue hums: -Why should I care if a dairy maid feels my skin?- the Frog Prince demands. Sometimes the tales are drawn into eerie relationship with each other (the hunter in -Red Riding Hood- is the same one who fails to kill Snow White). Eason-s drawings, one for each story, conjure an atmosphere of otherworldliness with deep forests and thatched cottages huddled in snow. Ages 8-12. Author-s agent: Elizabeth Kaplan, Elizabeth Kaplan Literary. Illustrator-s agency: Illustration Ltd. (Sept.)

School Library Journal
Gr 35Although wordy at times, Jenkins's skillful narration generally stays faithful to the source material of seven retold tales and provides depth for some characters. However, the author makes some tweaks, and her idea of "happy-ever-after" is a little different than in the original stories. In "The Frog Prince," Crystal doesn't get to throw the frog against the wall, but when the frog turns into a prince, they do fall in love and marry. Cherrythe good sister in "Toads and Pearls"does not marry the king's son as in the Charles Perrault version. ("She wanted to make a life for herself somewhere new. She came to a town, rented a room, and paid in pearls.") It's not clear whether Snow White will marry Prince Beacon. But Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, and the "Three Great Noodles" end up pretty much as expected. Jenkins explains in a concluding author's note that her intent was to be faithful, though not necessarily accurate, in retelling the tales "to bring out what's most meaningful to me." Her occasional references to bunnies and bluebirds are a bit too cute, but the contemporary tone is effective. This slim, handsome volume includes an illustrated title page for each tale with a simple, nicely sketched setting usually framed in the forest's twining branches. VERDICT A welcome visit for fairy-tale fans, and a useful introduction for readers not so familiar with these enduring stories.Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
ALA Booklist (9/1/17)
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (7/1/17)
Word Count: 12,600
Reading Level: 4.5
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.5 / points: 2.0 / quiz: 191982 / grade: Lower Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.3 / points:5.0 / quiz:Q72095
Lexile: 690L
Guided Reading Level: S
Fountas & Pinnell: S

Step into a wintry forest where seven iconic fairy tales unfold, retold with keen insight and touches of humor.

There once was a frozen forest so cold, you could feel it through the soles of your boots. It was a strange place where some kisses broke enchantments and others began them. Many said witches lived there — some with cold hearts, others with hot ovens and ugly appetites — and also dwarves in tiny houses made of stones. In this icy wood, a stepmother might eat a girl’s heart to restore her own beauty, while a woodcutter might become stupid with grief at the death of his donkey. Here a princess with too many dresses grows spiteful out of loneliness, while a mistreated girl who is kind to a crone finds pearls dropping from her mouth whenever she speaks. With empathy and an ear for emotion, Emily Jenkins retells seven fairy tales in contemporary language that reveals both the pathos and humor of some of our most beloved stories. Charming illustrations by Rohan Daniel Eason add whimsical details that enhance every new reading.

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