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Grumbles from the Forest: Fairy-Tale Voices with a Twist
Authors: Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Illustrator: Matt Mahurin
Published March 1st, 2013 by Wordsong

Goodreads Summary: What were all those fairy-tale characters thinking? Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich answer this question in paired poems, with sometimes startling results. The Princess claims all those mattresses kept her awake–“not” a silly pea–while the poor pea complains that the princess snores. One Snow White begs the witch to settle by the bay and throw that mirror away. Another boldly tells the mirror she “won’t be guided by a glass that’s so one-sided.” Grumbles from the Forest is a bewitching brew of voices–grumbling, pleading, bragging, reminiscing, confiding–that bubbles with magic and wonder. The spectacular paintings that tie the poems together are full of surprise and intrigue. This stunning collection includes end notes that briefly describe the tales and their history and an introduction that invites readers to imagine their own poems from unusual perspectives.

My Review: Jane Yolen just doesn’t make bad books. Every time I read one of her books, I know I am reading a piece of great literature. This book is no different. Grumbles from the Forest takes 15 different fairy tales and then has a poem from two different perspectives for each fairy tale. Some are two different characters: Cinderella and her stepsisters, the frog and the princess, the wicked fairy and Sleeping Beauty, etc. including some characters who didn’t have a voice in the original fairy tale like the pea from The Princess and the Pea. Some are from one character, but two points of view: Snow White talking to the witch and with the magic mirror. I was fascinated with all of the poems they came up with!

Teacher’s Tools For Navigation: This book was built for being used in the classroom. First, each fairy tale section could start its own discussion about what the poem is saying vs. the original fairy tale. Second, the poetry itself stands alone. Look for figurative language and other poetic elements and there is even a haiku and cinquain. Third, we are always trying to get students to see things from different points of view and this is a perfect way. The introduction of the book even invites readers to: “Why not try writing a fairy-tale poem yourself? Pick a character or an object—maybe the bridge in Three Billy Goats Gruff, or Beauty’s father or the chair that Goldilocks broke. Imagine. Enchant. Write a poem that rewrites the tale. Make a little magic.”

Discussion Questions: Why do you think the authors chose to write from ____’s point of view? Do you agree with the point of view they gave the character/object? What would you have had them say instead? Who/what would you have written about instead?

We Flagged: Thumbelina 

“Thumbelina: A Cinquain”
Being
small has its down-
side, but what, pray tell, is
the choice of a little missy
at birth?

“Little Big: A Haiku”
I am just a bit
Of a proper young lady,
Still I got my prince.

(p. 34-35)

Read This If You Loved: The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl, and other fractured fairy tales; Stories told from different points of view like The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Who Stole Mona Lisa? by Ruthie Knapp

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3 Responses to Grumbles from the Forest: Fairy-Tale Voices with a Twist by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich

  1. Linda Baie says:

    I just read and nominated this for the Cybils, Kellee-so so good! I’m glad to see you liked (loved) it too. I hope I’ll get to share some kind of poetry lesson with it this year! It will make a terrific mentor text lesson!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Ahhh this looks so good! And I am with you on Jane Yolen – I’ve never read anything of hers I haven’t liked…and at this point I think I’ve read almost everything she’s ever written hahah

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