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****Once Upon a Fairy Tale

edited by Karen Kushell

Reviewed January 19, 2002.
Includes audio CD.
Viking, 2001.  80 pages.  Available at Sembach Library (E ONC).

This is an expensive book (list price $30), but profits go to the Starbright Foundation, a non-profit organization that creates and distributes media based products for seriously ill children.

The idea is fun.  Four fairy tales are presented, with a page told by different characters in the story.  For example, Little Red Riding Hood has a page told by her mother, then the wolf, the woodcutter, Grandma, and finally Little Red Riding Hood herself.  The fun part is that each role is read on the audio CD by a different celebrity.  When I saw that the Big Bad Wolf was performed by Robin Williams, I knew that this would make for fun listening.

The stars get “as told by” credit for each page they perform, but I imagine most of the credit should go to the editor.  There are some cute unifying details, like Little Red forgot her glasses, which is why she could mistake the wolf for her grandma.  The text in the book doesn’t perfectly match what the stars say (It’s more polished in the book.), so this isn’t designed as a read-along.  The book is a lovely production in itself, and the CD is fun to listen to whether you have the book with you or not.

Another lovely part of this project is that 21 outstanding illustrators were asked to illustrate the different characters.  The results are beautiful and full of variety, making the book something special in its own right.

The other stories told are The Frog Prince, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and Rumplestiltskin.  Some of the other stars are Lisa Kudrow, Gwyneth Paltrow, Hugh Grant and Nicolas Cage.  For the most part this method of telling the story in the voice of the different characters gives a fresh twist to the tale.  I wasn’t crazy about using “The Princess’s Pillow” or “The Spinning Wheel,” but that’s a minor quibble.  I think they wanted to fit in a few more stars and illustrators.

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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