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After his unfortunate clothing story, the Emperor's elderly reporter is ordered to write fairy tales, and with the help of a reluctant streetwise girl, comes up with whole new slant on the old classics. By the author of Untold Tales.
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Grade 5 Up-Neither the stuff of high fantasy nor low comedy, Brooke's reworked fairy tales wind around in a constant state of re-examination, breaking through the edges of conventional story framing. Readers with a certain level of literate sophistication will chuckle at the sly word play (Nobody could complain about the baker because "everyone needed what he kneaded."). Yet there is a prevailing melancholy, a questioning of the nature of truth and our tenuous grasp of it. This latest in the trilogy, which began with A Telling of the Tales (HarperCollins, 1990), takes on not only folklore but also journalism. Teller, who tries to sell the news of the emperor's clothes in the first story, is aided by an urchin as he develops his stories. The tales-of the emperor, "Rumpelstiltskin," "Gold in Lock," and "Little Well-Read Riding Hood" (who knew the wolf wouldn't eat her because she'd looked it up)-and the lives of the girl and the Teller mingle and move around one another as the two grow older and wiser. In the final tale, the girl becomes the teller in Telling of the Tales as she reads that book's opening lines. It's hard to read these tales silently. Readers will find themselves looking up and saying "listen to this." A treat.
Sally Margolis, Deerfield Public Library, IL
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Gr. 9-12. Brooke, whose Untold Tales (1992) steeped us so intriguingly in the "fractured" fairy tale genre, shows us yet another way familiar stories from childhood can be made fresh. Here, he uses the story-within-a-story framework, his two main characters being Teller, an eccentric old scribe who writes imaginative fiction, and a fussy, independent little girl who becomes Teller's caretaker, companion, inspiration, and, occasionally, his main character. The framework gives Brooke a chance to expound on the art of writing fractured tales and on human nature itself. There are some good laughs in his retellings, which ring with wordplay, irony, and dry wit. A curious pair, the old man and the girl will attract readers with their strangeness (the girl changes her name to fit story circumstance), and such fairy tale familiars as Goldilocks take on surprising new identities. The complex framework, the irony, and the layers of meaning in the stories make for challenging reading, but Brooke's cleverness ensures that the effort is worthwhile. Stephanie Zvirin
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Book Description HarperCollins, 1994. Library Binding. Condition: New. Never used!. Seller Inventory # P110060234008
Book Description HarperCollins, 1994. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0060234008