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

Amazon | IndieBound | Book Depository

And just a note, there is a box set of the Shrek movies available on DVD and Blu-ray.

First published 1990
32 pages

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.


  • I didn’t know Shrek was also a book, interesting. When my daughter was 2 – 3 she loved the movie Shrek, couldn’t get enough of it, I found it funny and weird that a little girl loved it so much, knew the words and all 🙂

    I will have to get this one and see what she says and if she notices the differences.

  • I had heard of this but never read it. I like William Steig. It sounds like they kept a little bit of the original- the donkey, the ogre princess. I’d be curious to read it myself.

  • I didn’t know this was a book, too! I feel like I keep saying that about things lately. I should really know better by now. I’m taking the kids to the library tomorrow and will definitely see if I can find it.

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