Shrek was one of the favorite fairy tale characters mentioned a few weeks ago, so off I went to the library to meet Shrek, not the Shrek I know and love from the movies, but from the original story, Shrek! by William Steig.
Shrek is an odious, ugly creature who stinks and spits flames. I will say though that he is very self-confident. He is kicked out by his parents and goes off into the wide world, repulsing everyone who crosses his path. He eventually meets a witch who tells his fortune, that he will meet a donkey who will take him to a knight. He will defeat the knight and win the hand of a princess even uglier than himself. So, he does defeat a dragon, ride the donkey to the castle, and eventually marries the princess. “And they lived horribly ever after, scaring the socks off all who fell afoul of them.”
I have to admit, I like the loveable Shrek from the movies more, the one who is capable of change and of doing good. On the other hand, Shrek in the book is who he is and is proud of it.
The book would be a fun read-aloud for kids ages 4 and up who like a little bit of gross. I especially liked the rhyming courtship scene, with the princess and Shrek extolling each others virtues, including wart, red eyes, and scary features. they do make the perfect couple. And it is a funny book, almost an anti-fairy tale. The illustrations match the mood of the book, kind of scraggly but fun.
While I much prefer the movies, Shrek! is worth picking up from the library. And it does have a nice message: anyone can find happiness, even ugly, disgusting ogres.
3 out of 5 stars
Category: Picture Book
First published 1990
Book source: Library
Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.