Thursday’s Tale: Brave Red, Smart Frog Brave Red, Smart Frog by Emily Jenkins
Illustrator: Rohan Daniel Eason
Published by Candlewick Press on September 5, 2017
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Childrens, Fairy tale
Pages: 104
Format: eARC
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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.

I truly enjoyed these lovingly retold fairy tales. Jenkins has taken some favorite, familiar tales and while not adding anything new, has made them into charming tales. We have Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, the Frog Prince, and Diamonds and Toads among others. While she keeps the traditional plots and characters. she gives some extra depth, like why the Frog Prince loved the princes or how Hansel and Gretel’s father could have let them be left in the woods. She asks why the step-mother was so cruel and how Red could have been tricked by the wolf. I also love how the cold, frosty wood figures into the tales. The tales have touches of humor and amusing dialogue, especially in Three Wishes and the Frog Prince. I appreciate how the tales are connected in ways that make the book fit together well, rather than just a random collection. For example, the same huntsman who doesn’t kill Snow White does kill the wolf in Little Red Riding Hood’s story.

Overall, while the stories here don’t offer anything unique, they are told well and I enjoyed them. Everyone gets a happy ending, well except the dead step-mothers and witch.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all. Feel free to join in.