Grumbles from the Forest: Fairy Tale Voices with a Twist Review

grumbles_from_the_forestGrumbles from the Forest: Fairy Tale Voices with a Twist by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrations by Matt Mahurin

Wordsong, 2013. 978-1590788677.

Synopsis: What were all those fairy-tale characters thinking? Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich answer this question in paired poems, with sometimes startling results. Grumbles from the Forest is a bewitching brew of voices—grumbling, pleading, bragging, reminiscing, confiding—that bubbles with magic and wonder. The spectacular paintings that tie the poems together are full of surprise and intrigue. – from

Why I picked it up: I love Yolen and I love twisted fairy tales.

Why I finished it: This is a fun romp through many of the fairy tales we know, love, and grew up with that takes a different view of the events with which we are so familiar. Granted, the stories have changed since their first tellings and the plots continue to change as time goes on, but the characters largely stay the same. The poems that were my favorite were told by the characters from ‘The Princess and the Pea’ (who asserts that it was the mattresses that kept her awake, not the pea), ‘Three Billy Goats Gruff’ (the troll tells about how much he loves goat and his frustration with being outwitted), and ‘The Three Bears’ (in which a police bear assesses the scene of the crime and Goldilocks leaves a note of apology). It’s different insight into what happened in each of these classic tales and Yolen and Dotlich encourage the reader to take their own favorite fairy tale and write a poem about it from a different perspective. Mahurin’s illustrations help to bring the poems to life with vibrant colors and a whimsical use of lines to create the fairy tale world. There’s also a handy little index in the back that gives some background on the fairy tales in this book: where they came from, how they evolved, and even different versions of the same story. It’s a surprising, dazzling, and wonder-filled journey through the woods of our favorite fables.

Other related materials: Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen and Heidi Y. Stemple, illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin; When Riddles Come Rumbling: Poems to Ponder by Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrated by Karen Dugan; Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse  by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse; Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer, illustrated by Josee Masse; Forest Has a Song: Poems by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater, illustrated by Robin Gourley; The Other Side of the Story books by Trisha Speed Shaskan and Nancy Loewen; Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin; Your Skeleton is Showing: Rhymes of Blunder from Six Feet Under by Kurt Cyrus, illustrated by Crab Scrambly; BookSpeak!: Poems About Books by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Josee Bisallion; Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: False Apology Poems by Gail Carson Levine, illustrated by Matthew Cordell; World Rat Day: Poems About Real Holidays You’ve Never Heard Of by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Anna Raff


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