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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Fairly Fairy Tales, written by Esme Raji Codell and illustrated by Elisa Chavarri. Aladdin, Simon & Schuster. 2011. $19.99 ages 3 and up




Solar panels?

So, what fairy tale do you think it's about?

Can you guess?

Well, maybe.

This two page set of questions that just begs children to provide the obvious answers is immediately followed by a double page spread bursting with brilliant color, and begging for attention. The first two little pigs are working to create their homes which the wolf woefully destroys. By the time he arrives at the brick abode, all three are housed safely within its walls. A solar panel is prominently displayed to help readers understand its meaning. Turn the page, and witness a multitude of environmentally conscious piggies taking part in recycling, adding solar panels, working in a community garden, holding a benefit concert...everywhere you look there is another something to catch your eye! 

On to Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel and the Three Bears. Little ones don't need to know the fairy tales to enjoy the fun; but, what a wonderful way to introduce them to a whole new world of stories. Once this book has been shared, it can so easily lead to reading the real versions of said tales. For older children, familiar with the fairy tales, the fun is in the wonder of the illustrations that create a feast for the eyes and imagination.

Three things familiar and one that doesn't belong....does that make you think of a game from Sesame Street? Young listeners will certainly get the connection. The fun inherent in sharing this book will make it a favorite from the 'get-go'! Every child will be eager to chant the questions and answers and will then delight in seeing a newly imagined scene from an old favorite story.

First of all, it's fun. Next, it has everything that early readers need to help them read on their own...simple text, pattern, and pictures that supply clues for new words. It also can encourage young writers to try their hands at a personal version of the same, or a different story.

Of the illustrator, the author says: "I never met her and we never spoke directly in the process of making the book, as is customary in publishing. She just went ahead and did what every picture book author dreams an illustrator will do: she ran with it, not just visually narrating the text but adding to it, creating two voices for the one song, both hers and mine."  What a serendipitous pairing!

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