Thursday, August 27, 2009

Rewriting Those Horrible Children's Tales

We've spoken before in this blog about the terrible sort of stories we subject our innocent children to- Velveteen Rabbit being top on my list of nightmare-inspiring fairy tales. After a comment by Anne Fine that the current crop of books for children are very bleak, Guardian writer Stephen Moss thought perhaps it was time to put a new twist on those old tales in his hilarious article online.

We all know how The Ugly Duckling shaped us into the looks obsessed people that we are; we saw the consequences of being ugly and it was not pretty. Moss has a new ending for this classic mind warper:

Rewrite: Joins Ugly Duckling Support Group; campaigns successfully for physically challenged ducks' rights; is ultimately accepted for what he is rather than conforming to meaningless notions of grace and beauty.

Or how about his rewrite of Peter Pan:

Rewrite: After numerous adventures, Peter and Wendy settle down to a life of domestic tranquillity in Notting Hill; the Lost Boys work hard at school and make it to Cambridge, where they study law and win rowing blues. The evil Captain Hook does not escape the clutches of the ticking crocodile, who swallows fey Tinkerbell and the annoying Mrs Darling for good measure.

See folks, every story CAN have a happy ending with just that little bit extra effort.


bonita said...

Like others who commented on your original post, I didn't have a problem with any of the grim Grimm or Anderson tales. I clearly remember the matched set which had precious few illustrations—even the fairy princess looked like a troll.
I was an ugly duckling myself, and I interpreted the story differently than does Mr. Moss. I thought the 'moral' of the story was that the know-it-all beautiful swans were pretty on the outside but ugly on the inside. In additional, they were wrong..The Ugly Duckling had the last "What have you guys got to say for yourselves now" word. The pressure to conform never occurred to me!
Seems like political correctness and adult over- analysis is detrimental to classic children's literature. Cripe, Sesame Street is phasing out Oscar the Grouch in favor of better manners and the Cookie Monster in favor of a healthful diet. As if kids don't know exaggeration when they see it. And what's with all this happy ending stuff? Does every event in life have a happy ending? Must we assume that everyone lives happily ever after? Talk about falling short as an adult!. These must be the same adults who praised kids for participating in games that never had winners or losers. Now these kids think they should be rewarded for showing up at work...heaven forbid they actually perform.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

bonita, I'm not so sure I can add much, but here goes: As a child I remember thinking that grown-ups didn't give us kids credit enough for knowing the "full scoop". We knew how difficult life was. We could see the pain, we felt it. Maybe we didn't have any control over our own circumstances, but we saw the turmoil all around. So, the Grimm fairy tales may have served a purpose, so to speak, to help us sort certain "grim" realities our while being entertained. The stories children read and watch anymore seem a bit wishy-washy and unreal.

Lauri said...

No cookie monster or Oscar? That's just sick. I think you're correct Bonita, we undermine our kids and too I don't think it's fair to tell them life is all roses and bubbles when we know it's not. I've never been a fan of lying to kids.

Unknown said...

This was funny! I read your original post and reading this now makes me smile... Yeah, there were some children tales that left me utterly frigthened as a child!

Val said...

award for you at mine :-)

Helen Ginger said...

Some of the tales are indeed grim, but we survived. Can't say the same for the music videos and lyrics kids listen to today. Talk about warping young kids' minds!

Straight From Hel

Anonymous said...

And a pox on all those handsome princes who came to save the day. Everyone knows Cinderella really told Prince Charming to go and take a running jump. She then opened her own cleaning business Cinders Inc which she franchised worldwide. I believe it's still listed on the Dow Jones.

Lauri said...

Helen you're right the lyrics of some songgs these days are horrendous.

Selma- fantastic take on Cinderella!

Rose Maria said...

Politically correct children's tales?

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