By Chris Wilson
FRACURED FABLES is exactly what you expect it to be: a series of short fairy tales, tall tales and fables retold with reinvented endings. It is comedic and sarcastic and sometimes sardonic. As with most anthologies, some chapters ring true while others fall flat.
You will get most of them right off –– duh –– while others take a panel or two to put together. I found a significant number of these were very clever and artistic like Hey Diddle Diddle or Starlight Starbright. In these stories, the art and text intermingled so well I pictured them hanging in an art exhibit.
Others such as There was an Old Giant and The People vs. Hansel & Gretel were surprisingly re-imagined. On the other hand titles like Raponsel (correct spelling, by the way) and Pie Eating Contest were just plain funny, the kind of funny you haw-hawed over when you were in sixth grade.
The thing I like about anthologies is the same thing that is bothersome about them: consistency. The writers and illustrators varied from chapter to chapter, so there is no common thread artistically. Even the narrative varies greatly in tone and content.
This works to the advantage of the teacher who uses the anthology as an à la carte instructional tool. I cannot conceive a time when I would assign students to read the title in its entirety. Rather, I would use individual stories to supplement core curriculum. For instance, I might use The House that Jack Built if I were teaching students about the use of rhythm, rhyme and repetition. Raponzel is an excellent example to teach students about the use of humor in storytelling. Hey Diddle Diddle offers a lot in the way of dissecting art in comics to gain important information not present in the text and to make connections. If one is looking to demonstrate how classic stories can be relevant today, Cinderella certainly makes use of contemporary teen attitudes.
A natural assignment using such an anthology would be to read a classic fairy tale and then read the fractured version. Compare. Contrast. Repeat. However, I think it would be more interesting to have students rewrite the traditional fable of their choice, making use of a rhetorical device studied.
Teachers could require that some classroom content (science, social studies, or math) be incorporated into the story so the student can simultaneously demonstrate their knowledge while practicing their communication arts requirements.
Chris’ Rating: Ages 12 and older
Publisher’s Rating: Ages 12 and older
This is one of those texts in which I feel it is appropriate to place in the parent permission required box for my fourth graders.
No cursing, but there are allusions to sexual situations, although they are brief and rather obscure.
Publisher: Silverline Books
Genre: Fairy Tales
Color: Full color