Forays into Fairytale

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The Wolf Who Fell Out of a Book
Thierry Robberecht and Grégoire Mabire
Ragged Bears Publishing
An overcrowded bookshelf in Zoe’s room precipitates an adventure for the black wolf that spills out of a falling book as it hits the floor. With his pointy teeth, said wolf, in his own environment is a scary creature but once out of the book he becomes something else altogether – a frightened creature anxious to escape from the resident moggy. In some desperate attempts to keep himself out of the cat’s clutches he gets into all manner of testing situations

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and tries to escape into other story books. None of the first few he tries can furnish a safe hiding place

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but our lupine friend isn’t giving up which is a good thing because on entering the next one he finds himself in a large forest wherein he meets …

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This little character is much more welcoming: in fact it turns out the wolf is just what she needs by way of a shoulder to cry on and of course, he’s more than happy to offer a helping paw to ensure a safe passage through the forest to Grandmother’s house.
Superbly subversive and with its sprinkling of fairy tale references and such a beguiling main character this is enormous fun to read with under 7s and a great book to spark off children’s own wolf adventures. Grégoire Mabire’s comic rendering of that toothy wolf and his larger than life feline adversary are both hilarious and wonderfully dramatic.

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Fairytale Frankie and the Tricky Witch
Greg Gormley and Steven Lenton
Orchard Books
I like a book with a twist to the tale: with its plethora of fairytale characters and diverting illustrations this playful modern story certainly has one or two.
Frankie is a fairytale fanatic and one morning as she’s enjoying a peaceful read in her bedroom, a princess bursts in asking for a hiding place and thus begins a visitation from a whole chain of unlikely intruders large

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and small …

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all asking for somewhere to hide from the witch.
When Frankie realizes she too should take cover, the witch bursts in demanding to know where the other characters are. Frankie doesn’t let on so the witch has to resort to more drastic measures to discover their whereabouts before uttering some words that finally cause the confused Frankie to understand what is going on.

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Help!
Sally Grindley and Peter Utton
Hodder Children’s Books
From the partnership that created Shhh! and Keep Out! is another playful foray into the world of traditional tales. This time there’s a big bad wolf at large and three porcine characters are rather keen to apprehend him and they’ve enlisted the reader to assist in the search, not to mention a teddy bear and a whole drove of their fellow swine.
There are so many possible hiding places to check out and lots of false starts although plenty of evidence that the BBW isn’t far away.

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So it’s on with the search and the poster pinning …

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until they discover more evidence of tricky doings.
But the creature’s still at large and the search continues till the seekers come upon a sturdy-looking house that might just be THE place.
Engaging, entertaining and from the opening lines, totally involving. There’s even a pair of mouse observers/commentators to add to the fun.

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‘Little Pig, Little Pig …’

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The Three Little Pigs
illustrated by Ed Bryan
Nosy Crow
Ed Bryan’s funky illustrations for this somewhat truncated version of the nursery favourite are full of humour. That the third little pig uses a kit to construct his brick house is a source of amusement to young audiences as are the three day-glow colour pots of paint

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he uses to adorn the exterior and it’s good to see evidence of his use of wind power. The Big Bad Wolf is rather a hoot too, sporting red plaid shorts and a baker’s hat. Even so he manages to scare the first and second little pigs as they cower inside the house of sticks before beating a hasty retreat to the safe haven of their brother’s brick house. Soon after, said wolf is huffing and puffing outside with his intention-revealing pie van parked close by;

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however as children relish, it’s not the porcine trio who receive a roasting but …

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One thing though – what is the role of the small rabbit who introduces himself on the title page and makes just one further silent appearance. I was hoping to see this bit-part developed during the course of the book.

There is a companion story, Cinderella,

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published at the same time by Nosy Crow and also illustrated by Ed Bryan.

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The Four Little Pigs
Kimara Nye and Marcin Bruchnalski
Maverick Arts Publishing
Tom’s Granny is a witch (she’s no threat to children I hasten to add) so it’s no surprise that her story sessions have an added touch of magic and when she starts reading him The Three Little Pigs at bedtime, she knows just how to respond to his “I know that story! … It’s boring.” comment.
In a flash Tom himself is cascaded into the tale,

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cast as a fourth pig and off he dashes to warn the three traditional protagonists of their impending doom. In fact he has all manner of tricky plans up his sleeve to outsmart the big bad wolf and protect the trio.
Even when the BBW does gain entry to the brick house, he finds himself face to face with a character who has the nerve to call him a bully. Far from happy at this home truth, he beats a hasty retreat and heads off to participate in an alternative tale leaving the three little pigs to – well we all know that part. And Tom? His choice for Granny Mag’s next bedtime story will definitely be Little Red Riding Hood.
This one went down very well with my audience of fours and fives who were all familiar with the tale’s progenitor and thoroughly enjoyed this twisted version, in particular the sight of the BBW whooshing across the soap-smeared floor.

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and the idea that Tom’s gran could change fairy tales at will – that’s something I suggested they might try for themselves.
Bruchnalski’s bold, bright, broad-brush watercolour illustrations add further new perspectives to the tale.

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