Wednesday 14 November 2012

A closer look at "Flip up Fairy Tales" from Child's Play

So many publishers, authors and illustrators often delve into the rich tapestry woven by classic fairy tales from the likes of The Brothers Grimm and others, for inspiration and perhaps a new spin on children's stories.

Child's Play's range of "Flip Up Fairy Tales" are a great example of how stories can be retold in innovative ways, and can also remove some of the more unsavoury elements without detriment to the original tale.

We took a look at four of the Flip Up Fairy Tales - with storytelling CDs included, to see how Child's Play's collection of fantastic authors and illustrators have built on the strengths of stories children probably already know and love.

First up, a fantastic version of "Three Billy Goats Gruff" by Alison Edgson (who must be one of the busiest illustrators in the business at the moment, I think I've lost count of the number of books that have passed through our hands with her name on them!)

Three goats start to run out of lush green grass to eat in their home field, so they look for pastures new. Unfortunately, between them and the sweetest grass on the hillside lies a bridge - and under that bridge lives a rather cruel, nasty and bullying troll...

You'll know the rest of the story like the back of your hand - at least you think you will, but Alison Edgson has rather neatly reworked the way the original story ends to provide a positive message, and a fantastic way to deal with bullies that (hopefully) children will understand and identify.

Next we looked at "The Gingerbread Man" - a rollicking version by Estelle Corke. This story is pretty much untouched and is easily one of Charlotte's favourite stories of all time. An old man and his wife bake a rather cheeky and mischievous Gingerbread Man for tea, but before they can tuck in, the gingerbread man runs off and is chased by the man, his wife, and just about everyone else in their locale. It takes a sneaky fox to teach the Gingerbread Man a (rather final) lesson, and I think secretly it's  great that the end is unchanged in this one as it's Charlotte's favourite bit! Eek!

(Having seen the way she deals with Pret's rather delicious gingerbread men, I can understand why).

We also took a look at the Flip Up Fairy Tale version of Cinderella. Again, largely untouched but with a rather more positive message throughout and a more satisfying end, Cinderella by Jess Stockham is beautifully illustrated and wonderfully told with the accompanying CD.

Last but by no means least we took a look at another of Charlotte's all time favourite fairy stories, The Enormous Turnip, retold by Cristiana Cerretti. An old man and his wife are master gardeners, their flowers, fruit and vegetables are the envy of their friends and neighbours. One year they grow a turnip that becomes so large that they can barely dig it out of the ground - so they round up their family and pets to help.

This book has some of the best (and most entertaining) flip up panels in it, as the couple lovingly sow their garden, then try with all their might to pull that lovely turnip out to eat for their tea. Again, a great and entertaining accompanying CD and a positive message threaded throughout the tale - but Charlotte was very sad to see that the dog, cat and mouse weren't included in the turnip feast at the end - OH NO! (Actually, have you ever tried to feed a dog, a cat or a mouse turnip? They're not massively keen!)

Child's Play's range also includes tales that your children may not be familiar with. We've previously reviewed their brilliant version of one of my favourite stories, "Stone Soup" and there are other world stories and folk tales like "Donkey Skin" and "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" to enjoy too.

The range is available in different formats (soft cover, hard back, or you can even just buy the story CDs to enjoy in the car or while out and about, collecting a few of the tales together on each). Check out the full range on the Child's Play website below

Child's Play Flip-up Fairy Tales

Charlotte's best bit: The cheeky Gingerbread Man getting his comeuppance.

Daddy's favourite bit: Great quality collection with superb storytelling on the CDs and the flip-up panels make them interesting even for younger children. Sensitive reworkings of some tales are also very nice to see too.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Child's Play International Ltd)