April Book Recommendations

7 Fairy Tales with a Twist

Traditional fairy tales are not currently in vogue. And this is perhaps unsurprising, for the world they present is so often black and white. In such stories as ‘Cinderella’, gender defines a person’s role; characters are either good or evil; plots are predictable and escapist. In the following stories however, the reader — whether young or old— is encouraged to think for themselves.

1+ years

You Choose Fairy Tales by Pippa Goodhart (2020)

The visual prompts allow a child to make up their own stories in this simple, rhyming book. They choose and flesh out the characters, imagining their attributes and their adventures. And the illustrated possibilities are endless.

3+ years

Franklin and Luna and the Book of Fairy Tales by Jen Campbell (2019)

When Luna’s inquisitive tortoise is swallowed by a book of fairy tales, he must, of course, be rescued. Diving in, Franklin and Luna discover a cobwebbed forest and a bevy of trapped and unpredictable characters, who join the search.

For the very young child, Katie Harnett’s illustrations will provide enchantment enough.

5+ years

Duckling: A Fairy Tale Revolution by Kamila Shamsie (2020)

This is one of a series of four traditional tales, vividly retold by well-known authors. In this one, Shamsie uses clear, poetic language in a moving rendition which emphasises the universal ideals of friendship, acceptance and love over tribal identity. Thus the original tale is given a moral twist, as in the other books in the series, which are all memorably illustrated. N.B. Not all books in the series are suitable for children aged 5.

5-8 years

Clever Cakes by Michael Rosen (2020)

This book features in Barrington Stoke's Little Gems series, which is designed for emerging and reluctant readers. The short, brightly illustrated chapter books have a clear, dyslexia friendly layout. So slightly older children should find the books accessible, but not patronizing. In these two adventure stories, Rosen is characteristically funny and engaging.

7+ years

Delightfully Different Fairy Tales by Lynn Roberts (2020)

In these often feminist and multicultural tales, Cinderella is a 1920s flapper girl, Sleeping Beauty a 1950s sci-fi nerd and Rapunzel a 1970s chick! Illustrator David Roberts modernizes the traditional tales with great style, cleverly introducing children to the visual hallmarks of each era. The settings are meticulously designed and allow for tweaks in the plot, such as when Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger on a record player!

8+ years

Gender Swapped Fairy Tales by Karrie Fransman and Jonathan Plackett (2020)

By applying their simple algorithm to twelve of the most well-known fairy tales, the authors’ aim was to challenge the assumptions we make about gender in society. The result is liberating: readers can inhabit more roles and develop new perspectives. The vivid ink and watercolour illustrations are also absorbing.

8+ years

Straw into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-Spun by Hilary McKay (2019)

Ten well-known fairy tales are told from a character’s perspective, which makes them rich and multi-dimensional. We discover Rumpelstiltskin’s motivation and even what happened to the children of Hamelin. McKay’s language is rich and the messages feel relevant today. Perfect for parents to read aloud and discuss. Sarah Gibb’s evocative silhouettes provide the ideal complement to this original and thought-provoking retelling.


By Laura Vida, Writer

Nursery and School Guide Magazines