Once upon a time, in a cave under a bridge, there lived a Greedy Troll – and he was hungry! How long would he have to wait for his next meal?
Soon he hears trip-trap, trip-trap, trip-trap, and hurries out. He discovers the Three Bears, who are on a quest to capture Goldilocks and bring her to justice. They persuade the Greedy Troll to wait for their return.
Then more fairytale Goodies arrive, all chasing Baddies and planning to bring them back for punishment. Waiting, imagining a feast, the Greedy Troll gets hungrier and hungrier.
Clever traps, lucky escapes and unwelcome surprises combine in this fascinating fractured fairytale as a hungry troll is outwitted by fairy tale characters like Goldlilocks, the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs.
HOW TO FRACTURE FOLK TALES
Assisting Years 2 and 3 to write their own fractured folk tales
Edel Wignell ©
It’s surprising to note that more than 150 fractured folk tales (or fractured fairy tales) have been published in recent years. Not only are they enjoyable for writers to create, they are fun for children to read and dramatize and attempt to write their own.
(I am using the term ‘folk tales’ in preference to ‘fairytales’ as tales about fairies have been popular in recent times, and children think that the term applies to stories about winged creatures. Folk tales, being part of the oral tradition (myths, legends, folkore, superstitions), have been handed down by word of mouth over the centuries.
Folk tale structure
The pattern or structure of British and European folk tales – honed by storytellers – is satisfying for listeners.
* They include several ‘good’ characters (usually three) and one ‘baddie’, providing conflict.
* There is a problem to solve, and good triumphs over evil.
* A sequence of (usually) three events leads to a climax and a fast resolution. (However, some are more complex.)
Children who have heard and read many folk tales in Lower Primary know this structure (though they may not be able to analyze it) and are able to use it as they create their own stories.
What are fractured folk tales?
These tales take a well-known story and reshape it by any or all of the following means:
* changing the point of view,
* introducing characters from several tales,
* playing with the title
* changing the setting – time and place,
* speculating on what may have happened before or what may happen after.
CHILDREN WRITE THEIR OWN FRACTURED FOLK TALES
Familiarity with folk tales makes children’s creative efforts satisfying. Notes on ways in which the tales can be fractured follow, with examples of published tales that may be found in libraries.
For enjoyment of fractured folk tales, children need to be familiar with the originals, so the first step is hearing them. During the early years many children have had opportunities to hear and read the popular western tales, on which most of the published fractured tales have been based. They are able to appreciate the writers’ skill and are ready to experiment with the fracturing process.
* Children can suggest the titles of the folk tales that they know and, in groups, revisit them for familiarity with their details.
* Select several published fractured tales for reading, and discuss the changes that have been made to them (see examples below).
* In pairs or threes, children may choose any character in a folk tale and re-tell it from that character’s viewpoint.
C. Ways in which folk tales can be fractured
1. Viewpoint of the ‘baddie’
Some of the most popular stories have been told from the point of view of the ‘baddie’. In folk tales, wolves are usually bad and witches are ugly. But when the baddies are the narrators, the stories are delightfully different from the originals!
* Richard Tulloch (2008),Twisted Tales: six fairy tales turned inside out, ill. Terry Tenton, Random House, 978 1 74166 274 0 Pb
Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty, Rumpelstiltskin, Hansel and Gretel and Jack and the Beanstalk are told from an alternative viewpoint.
* Edel Wignell (2011) Long Live Us!, ill. Peter Allert, IP Kidz, 978 1 921479 46 5, Hb
The Greedy Troll (from the folk tale, ‘The Three Billy-goats Gruff’) lives under the bridge. Hungry, he hatches a plan to trap the Goodies and the Baddies from four folk tales, as they pass over the bridge.
* A. Wolf (as told to Jon Scieszka) (1989) The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, ill. Lane Smith, Viking, 978 0 14 054451 0 Pb
The hero is a timid wolf who wants to borrow a cup of sugar to make a birthday cake for his granny. Unfortunately he sneezes, blowing down the houses of the Little Pigs.
* Toby Forward (2005) The Wolf’s Story, ill. Izhar Cohen, Walker Books, 978 1 403 0162 5 Pb
The Wolf argues that the whole episode was a series of accidents and he was found guilty on circumstantial evidence. From the pages of the book, the wolf stares at the reader, and invites, for example, ‘Would you like to come and sit a bit closer while I tell you about the kid?’
2. Viewpoint of another character.
* Emily Gravett (2008) Spells, Macmillan, 978 0 23001492 3 Hb; 978 0 23053136 9 Pb
A frog finds an old book of spells and has an idea: he could become a prince!
* Mini Grey (2003) The Pea and the Princess, Red Fox, 978 0 09 943233 3 Pb
A modern version of the tale, told from the point of view of the pea.
3. Change of character or characters
* Babette Cole (1987) Prince Cinders, 978 0 14 055525 7 Pb
Prince Cinders takes the Cinderella role, and his three burly brothers are the wicked siblings!
* Eugene Trivizas (1993) The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, ill. Helen Oxenbury, Egmont Books, 978 1 40530945 8 Pb
Both the characters and the background are changed so that the dwellings are a concrete house, a concrete bunker and a flower-power bower!
* Raymond Briggs (1970) Jim and the Beanstalk, Hamish Hamilton, Puffin, 0 14 050077 4 Pb
When Jim climbs the enormous beanstalk growing beside his bedroom window, he discovers a very old giant needing help, so he provides false teeth, glasses, a wig…
4. Play with a title or change a word in a title
A title change can be a springboard to a new story.
* Lauren Child (2002) Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Book? Hodder Headline, 0 340 80554 4 Pb
As Herb lies down, he hits his head on a book of fairy tales, and falls asleep. Soon he meets Goldilocks, Cinderella and other characters.
* Dianne Bates (2001) Cinderfella, ill. Peter Viska, Puffin Books (Aussie Nibbles), 978 0 14131265 1 OP
Cinderfella is the brother of Burnt and Crisp. They win a trip to the fun capital of Uranus, and he is left behind. Then his hairy Dogfather transports him to Earth where he meets Princess Esmerelda, and falls in love.
5. Change the setting to a different time or place
* Shirley Hughes (2003) Ella’s Big Chance, Red Fox, 978 0 09 943309 5 Pb
Set in the 1920s in a fashionable family, this version has a horrid stepmother, bullying step-sisters and a delightful ending without a prince!
* Bob Graham (2006) Dimpty Dumpty, Walker Books, 978 1 40631901 9 Pb
In this version of the ‘Humpty Dumpty’ nursery rhyme, background characters rise to the occasion and share the limelight at the appropriate moment.
* Anthony Browne (2010) Me and You, Doubleday, 978 0 38561489 4 Hb
A modern, prosperous family of three bears goes for a walk before lunch. At the same time, a girl from a poor part of the city becomes lost, and enters their house.
* Sharon and Dean Hale (2008) Rapunzel’s Revenge, ill. Nathan Hale, Bloomsbury, 978 0 7475 8743 9 Hb
In an American Wild West setting, Rapunzel is imprisoned in a tree in a large forest and rescued by rogue Jack. She becomes his partner-in-crime, the charges being horse thieving, kidnapping, jail breaking… and more!
6. Expand the story
Characters from one folk tale may interact with those of another. Start with simple tales and few characters. Children who enjoy creating stories and are ready for complications will see the possibilities. Plots of tales may be completely changed, and may include many surprises.
* Allan Ahlberg (2007) Previously, ill. Bruce Ingman, Walker Books, 978 1 84428 062 9 Hb; 978 1 4063 1350 5 Pb
What were the characters in familiar folk tales and nursery rhymes doing before their well-known adventures began?
* Hilary Robinson (2004) Mixed Up Fairy Tales, ill. Nick Sharratt, Hodder Children’s Books, 978 0 340 97558 2 Hb
Twelve fairy tales are told briefly, with cartoon-style illustrations on the opposite pages. Each is cut into four parallel sections so that the reader can mix and match to create zany variations.
* Ben Brown (2008) The Apple, ill. Tracy Duncan, Puffin, NZ, 978 0 14350 2920 Pb
On the way to visit her granny, a little girl in a hooded red coat, picks up a golden apple. First she meets a wolf who takes the apple, and then other folk tale characters become involved.
* Mini Grey (2006) The Adventures of the Dish and the Spoon, Red Fox, 978 0 09 9475767 Pb
The nursery rhyme is expanded to include what happened next in the story of two lovers who ran away.
* Allan Ahlberg (1977) Jeremiah in the Dark Wood, ill. Janet Ahlberg, Kestrel/Puffin,
0 14 038683 1 Pb
A plate of jam tarts cooling on a window-sill goes missing, and Jeremiah Obadiah Jackanory James sets off to find the robber. On his quest he encounters a wolf, three bears, a frog prince… and more.
* Anthony Browne (2004) Into the Forest, Walker Books, 09 7445 9797 8 Pb
A boy is sent to deliver a cake to his Grandmother’s house. He is told not to go through the forest, but he does. Soon he meets folk tale characters who want the cake…
Creative activities linked
Fracturing folk tales provides an excellent opportunity for creativity in many curriculum areas.
* Discussion, sharing and writing can lead to drama – a group presenting their story as mime, shared reading, radio drama or acting.
* As children love to join in, saying, ‘Little Pig, Little Pig, let me come in,’ and other repeated phrases in folk tales, they can be encouraged to create choruses, chants and songs to add to the pleasure of dramatic expression for both participants and audience.
* Suggestions for art and craft activities flow rapidly when children are involved in creating fractured folk tales for drama: sets, murals, dioramas, collage, costumes and identifiers of all kinds for characters and settings.
Internet Database: The Source: Magpie’s online subject guide to children’s literature, compiled by Dr Kerry White with Rayma Turton and David Turton – an excellent resource for teachers. www.mapgies.net.au
Writer, compiler, journalist, poet (former teacher) Edel Wignell has more than 90 published books for children, the latest being Long Live Us! illustrated by Peter Allert (2011, Interactive Publications, Brisbane). As a short story, in 1997 it won the Holiday Fantasia Literary Competition for a Fractured Fairy Tale. For the picture-story, Edel suggested a mystery in the illustrations to add to the surprise as the story reaches its climax.