Monday, March 26, 2007

Fractured Fairy Tale Awesomeness

Now Reading: Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences
Just Finished: Pay the Piper: A Rock 'n' Roll Fairy Tale, This is Paradise!

So, today let's talk about two fairy tale series that so far only have two books a piece. Both of these series needs to step on it and write some more books! I crave more! I am a glutton and demand you indulge me!

So, first up we have the Rock 'n' Roll Fairy Tales by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple.

Both books are modern stories of our world and the world of fairy tales crash landing into each other. They are both exceedingly well written (I mean, they're Yolen, so that's a given, but I still wanted to point that out.) Both books feature original rock songs with lyrics used at appropriate times in the book, and then a chapter at the end of the book with all of the songs and their lyrics. I wish for only two things:

1. More books
2. Recordings of these songs! Adam Stemple is a rock musician, so I strongly suspect there are melodies behind these lyrics. I long to hear them.

So, first up we have Pay the Piper: A Rock 'n' Roll Fairy Tale. Gringras is the lead singer/lyricist/piper for a folk rock band (rock and reel) Brass Rat. He is also an exiled prince of Faerie and every year must pay a teind of silver, gold, or souls.

Callie is a junior high reporter who's covering the Brass Rat concert, but knows something is not quite right. After accidentally seeing Gringras charm rats with his pipe, she looks deeper into the problem, and ridiculous as it might sounds, thinks Gringras might be the Pied Piper of Hamlin...

Then, on Halloween night, all the children in town go missing. Callie knows Gringras does not have silver or gold, so must be paying in souls. Callie knows that if she ever wants to see her brother, or any of her friends again, it's up to her.

This story is well done. Alternating between Gringras's back story and the modern day narrative, we get a great adventure, and an amazing look into faerie lore-- parts of it reminded me a lot of the Faerie sections of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. It's also just an awesome adventure, and it's not often we get high end adventure in a rather literary novel.

Troll Bridge: A Rock'n' Roll Fairy Tale is the follow up.

Every year, the Minnesota State Fair has twelve dairy princesses. Every year, they have their likeness carved in butter and displayed at the fair. Every year, the butter heads are then left on a bridge in a small town near Duluth. Every year, but not this year. This year, they left the butter heads at the fair. This year, all twelve dairy princesses have just disappeared off that very bridge. This year, the trolls didn’t get the butter maidens, so they claimed the real maidens.

They also took a rock and roll band made up of three brothers. Add in one mischievous fox that can talk to musicians, and you have yourself another great adventure.

This is a fun, rollicking tale of music and escape that draws on classic fairy tales and Norse mythology. I liked the explanation that the Norse mythological creatures came over in the nightmares of the long boat passengers and the hint of the battles between the Scandinavian creatures and those in Native American cosmology. I also liked how there was personality differences in the different trolls and they were complex creatures-- that's more consideration than they normally get!

I especially enjoyed the slice of Minnesota culture. I could hear the accent in the news reporters' dialogue, and I missed home. (Yeah, earlier today I said I missed Iowa. I just miss the Midwest. 3 more weeks and I'm there!)

Next up is the Twice Upon a Time series by Wendy Mass. These books take classic tales and retell the story, a chapter for the princess, and a chapter for the prince. The prince's stories are really my favorite, because we have no expectations of them before the rescue, and Mass does great work with their back story.

Twice Upon A Time #1: Rapunzel, the One With All The Hair, I originally picked this up because it was part of Wilsona's stupidly long banned book list. There is nothing wrong or bad in this book, it was just on the same page as something they objected to, so it got cut too. (These are the people that banned Clifford's Bathtime after all!)

Anyway, so Rapunzel is taken on her birthday to live in a tower. She's a little whiny and petulant-- understandable certainly, but still a bit annoying.

Benjamin is a prince who is lonely at the top. I especially liked his friendship (and issues) with Andrew the page and the difficulties (and jealousies) with his cousin Elkin. I liked the ingenuity that the boys had to show to rescue Rapunzel.

I especially liked Stephen, the little green man who is also imprisoned by the witch and helps Rapunzel.

Twice Upon a Time, No. 2: Sleeping Beauty, the One Who Took the Really Long Nap:The One that took the really long nap was even better. Mainly, because Rose didn't annoy me! Anyway, I liked Rose's frustrations with being perfect, which were even more so than Rose in Princess School, and better done, I think, but mainly because they were more fleshed out here.

I really liked Prince (he doesn't have a name). His mother has some Ogre blood in her and hates beauty. She also needs to eat living things occasionally. She's not very tender. Because of this, Prince has a hard time making friends and servants don't stay for very long.

But then Prince discovers a castle in the woods that is a perfect match for his own, but it is covered with brambles and thorns...

I want more!

1 comment:

Dana Watson said...

Some suggestions, because I just know you need more to read:

The first of the rock 'n roll fairy tales reminds me of Terry Pratchett's Soul Music, which is hilarious and awesome, as is all his Discworld stuff, and given your love of fairy tales, you'd probably like it.

The second one, with the Norse mythology being brought over to the US, reminds me of Neil Gaiman's American Gods, which is certainly less kid-friendly, and bit darker than Pratchett, but also excellent.