Title: Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses
Author: Ron Koertge
Illustrator: Andrea Dezso
Publisher: Candlewick Press, 2012
In this poetry collection, we see familiar fairy tales turned completely upside down and twisted to a barely recognizable transformation. Popular tales like "Cinderella" and "Little Red Riding Hood" coexist with less familiar ones like "The Robber Bridegroom," and "Godfather Death" in very dark modernizations and reimaginations. These are not stories you would want to be told at bedtime.
This is a very short volume, one I finished in under an hour. Unfortunately I feel like Koertge was looking to bring new meaning to the fairy tales, different messages to a modern audience, yet not always succeeding in making it as deep as it felt like he wanted to go. Some of the poems succeed more than others—for example, I found the stories told from the villains' perspectives to be illuminating and well done, like the stepsisters' story in "Cinderella" and the Mole's story in "Thumbelina." Others seem to be just modernizations with nothing new or that interesting to share, like "Bluebeard" and "The Frog Prince," or lack a clear message, like "Bearskin."
I have mixed feelings about this collection of retold fairy tales, but I would say if you are interested in them, you should give the book a shot. It's short and a very fast read. If you end up feeling like the volume is missing something, or want a poetry collection of fairy tale retellings with more substance, pick up Anne Sexton's Transformations, an excellent contribution to American literature and the poetry canon.
Disclosure: I got this book from the library.