Fractured Fairy Tales told by A.J. Jacobs; Bantam Books; copyright 1997; 183 pages
More than once I’ve read something by A.J. Jacobs and got a good laugh. His narrated versions of the Fractured Fairy Tales from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends made me want to go to YouTube and watch those clever episodes I watched as a kid. Jacobs did a wonderful job translating them to print.
These “Tales” are silly take-offs of original fairy tales like Hansel and Gretel, The Princess and the Pea, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Rumpelstiltskin. We remember them with delight even though they were a little twisted. Or maybe because they were twisted. Jacobs adds a bit of description because we miss the visuals we’d have if watching the stories on TV. Honestly, it’s not a distraction; it adds to the stories. Artwork is mostly of the frustrated Fairy Godmother. (Weren’t her expressions great?)
The compelling thing about reading the fractured fairy tales is how you can almost hear those voices from the cartoons. The voice characterizations were, in my opinion, more fun—not to mention more varied and less annoying—than the voices used in modern cartoons for kids.
And because fairy tales were a big part of our lives when Rocky and Bullwinkle first made the scene, even we could see the absurdity of how twisted the plots became. I mean, who ever heard of a witch worth her salt who needed a little girl to teach her how to fly a broomstick? (Way to go, Gretel.) And what a surprise that the witch didn’t eat them but instead…wait, no spoilers.
Jay Ward’s satirical and subversive Fractured Fairy Tales came to us before the age of “politically correct.” They’re just as witty and clever as you remember them. And full of puns. Let’s not forget the puns.
I think on one of those nights I can’t sleep and figure I may as well be up, I’ll pull out my copy of Fractured Fairy Tales and treat myself to a bedtime story. A good laugh is every bit as good as a good toddy.
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