Wednesday 18 September 2013

Twisty Tales - Damian Harvey

Books for young readers seem to get very little attention in the media despite the important role they play in a child's reading development, confidence and enjoyment of reading. Books often fall into a few small categories - picture books for the very young, school reading schemes and then they make a leap ahead into longer books - often leaving children with little to go at for pleasure. The Franklin Watts Hopscotch series are extremely popular in libraries as they provide a nice little skip and a jump across some of these gaps. It's a pity they aren't more widely available in shops, nevertheless, their appearance on the library shelves is very welcome and the books are greatly borrowed and eagerly read.

One of the more recent additions to the Hopscotch Range - which spans Adventures and Fairy Tales etc - is the Twisty Tales series. Simply told stories with twists on existing and familiar tales...

Sleeping Beauty - 100 Years Later by Laura North and illustrated by Gary Northfield is, as you would rightly guess, a twist on the tale of Sleeping Beauty. The story begins in the familiar way with the Beautiful Princess pricking her needle on a spinning wheel and falling into a deep, 100 year sleep - only to be awoken by the kiss of a prince. Then 'One hundred years later,  Prince wearing sunglasses drove up to the castle.' Rather than the old Prince Charming of the familiar story, this prince talks on his mobile phone, listens to music in his headphones and wears jeans. A lot has changed since the princess fell asleep. Prince Harry asks the sleeping beauty out on a date and off they zoom in his car. He sweeps her of her feet at the fair and gives her a single red rose... but when the Princess pricks her finger on a thorn she worries that she will fall asleep for another 100 years - Can Prince Harry help? Of course he can... but I'm not telling you how.

The Emperor's New Kit by Maureen Haselhurst and illustrated by Kelly Kennedy  is a delightful twist on The Emperors New Clothes and will instantly attract young boys with its football theme. Enrico Empery is the ace footballing captain of Bootsville United. He is so good that 'his fans nicknamed him "The Emperor".' As with famous footballers today, Enrico loves clothes almost as much as he loves football. His jealous teammate - Frankie Foulo decides to teach The Emperor a lesson and gives the vain Enrico a special football kit for the final... a kit that will be invisible to everyone except the 'top football players'. Will the vain Enrico get his just desserts or will there be an extra twist to this twisty tale (yes there will)... A great little twisty tale with delightfully modern illustrations that will instantly appeal to boys.

Rumpled Stilton Skin - written and illustrated by Daniel Postgate gives a funny twist on the familiar tale of Rumplestiltskin. This story tells the tale of a young girl that owns a cheese shop....She loves all sorts of cheese - even Stilton with its strong smell. The only thing she hates is the thick bit of skin on a Silton cheese... she gives this to her much loved dog. In Cinderella fashion, the girl receives an invite to a party. She can't go of course as she just doesn't look the part. Luckily for her... up pops a strange little man that can help her prepare for the grand party. He will ask for payment later of course. After a wonder party the little man returns and demands payment... Refusing the Prince's offer of land, horses and the like, the little man asks for the girls dog. Yum, yum he says... rubbing his tummy... unless you can guess my name of course. The girl tries in vain to guess his name then lose her temper and declares that he is worse than a piece of Rumpled Stilton Skin. You'll have to read the book to see if she's right... A delightful little Twisty Tale...

It's interesting to see the different approaches that authors have made in creating these Twisted Tales - some give them a slight twist by bringing them into the modern day like Sleeping Beauty 100 Years Later, and Rapunzel and the Prince of Pop (not reviewed here) which readers will love and instantly recognise the Simon Cowell link, others are firmly placed in the modern day like The Emperors New Kit, and others keep their more traditional settings like Penny Dolan's delightful twist on The Ugly Duckling in which all of the ducklings are born a little bit strange - except one that's called Beauty...

All a must for young and developing readers that want to visit the library and get a book they can enjoy on their own... 

Damian Harvey -



Penny Dolan said...

Great series to have mentioned here - not that I'm biased of course - and really good to hear of those wilder "Twisty Tale" fantasies. The incredible minds some people have!

Saviour Pirotta said...

Kids love these books. Well done to everyone involved.

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