If you’ve followed me for a bit, then you know our wonderful neighborhood playgroup (which started when my oldest was about 3 months old and at one point consisted of 13 families) does a book exchange each holiday season. Every participating child brings one wrapped book, and then they take turns picking out a book and unwrapping it, “White Elephant” style (but without the stealing). Some of our very favorite books have come from this book exchange (see my post about Giraffe Problems for an example of another wonderful book we received here). Three or four years ago, we received another favorite, the fractured fairy tale Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears. Read on to see why we love it, as well as to hear about another fractured Goldilocks tale that we love.
Let’s start by talking fractured fairy tales. What exactly is a fractured fairy tale, you ask? Fractured fairy tales keep pieces of familiar fairy tales, such as “Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” but change other essential elements, to make a surprising or funny twist on the story. Fairy tales, you may know, are wonderful tools for teaching plot, setting, point of view, main problem, and more. Fractured fairy tales can be used to help children develop these understandings more as they compare the new story to the story they already know… Or they can just be read for fun and a good laugh!
Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears is a wonderful example of a fractured fairy tale, and it’s a favorite in our house. (In fact, you can find it on my “90 Books for 90 Days of Summer” list, by clicking here). Goldi Rocks tells the story of Goldi, a singing soprano who is not afraid to enter houses unknown and make herself right at home. Unbeknownst to her, the house she enters is, in fact, the house of the Three Bears, who happen to be in a band together… A band struggling to find fans and hit their groove. Struggling, that is, until they return home to stumble upon Goldi, asleep at the keyboard. Corey Rosen Schwartz and Beth Coulton wrote this in wonderfully rhyming, almost limerick verse, so it’s fun to read, and my girls love the brightly colored, inviting and funny pictures. Music-loving children may also enjoy talking about the instruments or even learning about what it means to “top all the rock charts” or hear crickets instead of applause after a performance. Recommended for ages 4-8, but you can definitely go younger here.
To make reading fractured fairy tales even more fun, try picking a few variations of the same story for your children to read and compare. For example, you might pair Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears with Mo Willems’ Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. In Willems’ version, three dinosaurs (a mama, a papa, and a guest visiting from Norway…) lay a trap to catch an “innocent little succulent child” who is drawn in by the chocolate pudding left out (at 3 different temperatures, of course!). Fortunately for Goldilocks and the readers, she wises up to what’s happening just in time to leave. Willems’ illustrations are, as always, delightful; be sure to take time with them and notice plot elements told through his illustrations. Recommended for ages 4-8; in full disclosure, I first read this with my oldest when she was about 2.5 and it scared her… She just didn’t get the humor yet and took it at face value, but she laughs at it now.
As always, remember that for you parents at home, discussing the literary elements that are twisted around to make a fractured fairy tale doesn’t need to turn into a comprehension test! You can simply make casual observations or ask simple questions to start a compare-and-contrast discussion. For example, “Hey, look at that– her name is ‘Goldi Rocks’ in this book, but it’s usually Goldilocks!” might be all you need to talk about changes in characters.
What are your favorite fractured fairy tales to read at home or in the classroom? Some of our other favorites include The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, and The Three Ninja Pigs. For older readers, I adore The Sisters Grimm series and can’t wait for my girls to be old enough for those books!