Fairy Tale Imaginings

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Use Your Imagination
Nicola O’Byrne
Nosy Crow
Like its predecessor, this delicious book comes with a warning on the cover – (Rabbit’s suggestion I imagine judging by what ensues therein.). Open up to find a fantastic lesson in storytelling courtesy of one large lupine librarian – who ever heard of such a thing? – and one small and so he proves – highly imaginative Rabbit, not to mention the brilliant Nicola O’Byrne.
Feeling bored, said Rabbit wishes aloud for something to happen and this comment happens to be overheard by said librarian His suggestion is to co-write a story. Having got over (more or less) his surprise at the size of the librarian’s ears – “All the better for listening to stories with, my dear,” and his eyes “All the better for reading with,” the next thing is how to begin. USE YOUR IMAGINATION! – how else? So off we, or rather they, go… ‘Once upon a time.’ That’s the beginning dealt with and oh, it has to be a fairy tale; characters next and the requirement here is a baddie. Size is important; not too small and not too big…

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wolf size is perfect. Then there’s the hero (dress unimportant) and a setting. Again, imagination comes to the fore or should that be forest, here.
Now that’s all settled, let the story start –

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Time to decide who is really calling the shots thereafter and quickly too. Over to you Rabbit…
Cheeky humour, verbal and visual, mixes perfectly with fairytale frights and just the right degree of suspense in this superbly imagined (what else?) book.
It’s one of those that makes you want to wave it from the rooftops and shout come and listen to this NOW.
I had pretty much the same reaction to:

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Dog Loves Fairy Tales
Louise Yates
Jonathan Cape
As he dusts his bookshelves, Dog comes upon a long-lost book of Fairy Tales and in so doing, steps right into an adventure. His first encounter is with an imp who insists he is under a witch’s curse and must remain in his jar. Dog however disagrees. We must find the witch and break the curse he asserts leading the imp out into the Enchanted Forest.

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Now this imp is a thoroughly pessimistic character and no matter what Dog says, he counters it with negativity.
On their journey to find the witch, Dog and imp encounter Goldilocks (in the three bears’ cottage), three little pigs on their construction site,

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Hansel and Gretel and Red Riding Hood in the wood, Rumpelstiltskin (but not Rapunzel; she was not at home – thanks to imp’s bad luck) and more than one big bad wolf before finding the witch.

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She turns out to be anything but wicked and cures imp of his pessimistic streak once and for all leaving Dog and his impish pal to continue together right to THE END and their very own ‘happily ever after’.
This thoroughly engrossing story is brimming over with fairy tale allusions, (some spoken, others shown) making this not only a delight for young audiences but also an absolute gift for teachers. It’s great to read aloud and a super starting point for an exploration of traditional tales in the primary classroom. As with her previous Dog stories, the characters are beautifully portrayed in Louise Yates’ wonderful, very funny watercolour illustrations. She manages to convey the entire range of emotions seemingly effortlessly with that light touch of hers. Cool endpapers too.
It’s me, not the imp who is bewitched where this book is concerned.

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