Please welcome Vita Murrow for our #ReadYourWorld Book Jam 2020 with the Children’s Book Council. She has a list of inclusive fairy tales!
We are giving away five copies of High-Five to the Hero. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter.
I was so excited to be invited to curate a booklist celebrating Fairy Tales. In writing my recent titles “Power to Princess” and “High-Five to the Hero” it was a joy to delve into the genre and see how this important tradition of storytelling is evolving. Fairy tales play a special role in human history and in the passing down of culture. I’m inspired by my peers who craft contemporary retellings with new perspectives and attention to inclusion and representation. I had fun rebelling against established depictions and adapting stories to more accurately reflect a more just and equitable world view, and I’m pleased to highlight my fellow writers, illustrators, and publishers who do this work beside me.
Inclusive Fairy Tales
High-Five to the Hero by Vita Murrow, illustrated by Julia Bereciartu
In the new companion to “Power to the Princess” readers will meet their favorite guys from fairy tales and join them on journeys of discovery and affirmation. Historically these stories asked boys and men to suppress their feelings; in these retellings, our heroes are free to feel deeply and live fully. These well-known characters face magic, adventure, wrestle with issues of legacy and identity, and figure out how to not only fulfill a role, but fulfill themselves too. [fairy tale anthology, ages 7 and up]
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
This book is a total vision. Perfect for poring over by fans of graphic storytelling and those seeking perhaps a longer format take on a fairy tale retelling. Set in historic Paris, this story follows the brilliant, creative and lovable Sebastian, a dressmaker who wishes to don a dress himself. He finds a great companion in staff member Frances who has equally big dreams of her own. Together they support one another with courage and care and puzzle out the challenges of working with a friend. While the story never explicitly labels Sebastian, it allows readers to get to know the conversations he himself is having about gender and identity. [graphic novel, ages 12 and up]
Prince and Knight by Daniel Haack, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
This sweet story and its companion book “Maiden and Princess,” are set in a fairy tale land where same sex couples find their happily ever after. Through adventure and dragons, expectations and pressures these brave guys soldier on to find one another all amidst bright scenery, a joyful community and lots of love and affection. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Rapunzel: A Once Upon a World Board Book by Chloe Perkins, illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan
Part of a collection or as a stand-alone, this sunny and lush board book places Rapunzel in India! The story remains true to its origins, allowing the setting and tone to be wholly reimagined. Readers are free to make new connections and see the wider relevance of the story through the eyes of a diverse cast and non-Eurocentric sense of place. [board book, ages 2 and up]
La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
Hooray for bilingual books! As a language learning and literacy specialist I am always so pleased to see books where multiple languages share the stage. This mirrors the lives of so many of us who code switch and blend languages and cultures in our homes, communities and classrooms. This book is a great space to celebrate this, and on top of that, is very charming. This story puts the young people in the power seat (over the grown-ups) and keeps readers tracking their twist. Set in Peru with a LatinX cast. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
The Ghanian Goldilocks by Tamara Pizzoli, illustrated by Phil Howell
I love an alliteration, so Ghana and Goldilocks are music to my ears. In this story young Kofi shines as a sweet boy with sun kissed hair. Kofi is confident and a bit of a mischief maker. This combination of traits leads him into all sort of fun, yet also astray from time to time, including into a neighbor’s house where he is in for a surprise and a schooling. This book balances a retelling with a fresh context naturally; the patterns and expression of Ghana root this story with depth. [advanced picture book, ages 8 and up]
The Orphan a Cinderella Story from Greece by Anthony Manna and Christodoula Mitakidou illustrated by Giselle Potter
A poetic atmosphere born out of an oral storytelling tradition connects this tale to a history and mythology that has influenced world cultures for centuries and offers the reader many “text to self” and “text to world” connections. The story has all the original hallmarks yet strikes a whimsical new chord. Greece is the backdrop for this Cinderella story and the relationship between the environment and people is lyrical. [picture book, ages 4 and up]
Wild Swans by Xanthe Gresham, illustrated by Charlotte Gastuat
A dramatic interpretation of one of my favorite yet sometimes lesser known tales. Often a story of female rivals, this version challenges that notion, instead raising up two strong female leads seeking the protection and preservation of their family and village. The illustrations are tremendous and bridge contemporary values with classical roots. [advaned picture book, ages 8 and up]
Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella by Megan Morrison
I realize I may be double-dipping in Cinderella territory, but this one could not be missed. With a social justice minded heroine, a proactive fairy godfather and a prince looking to rebrand, this reboot ties together important themes that mirror the development of young readers. Youngsters in the middle grades are broadening their perspective and thinking carefully about issues of justice, fairness and their role in shaping history as changemakers, and building their identities as leaders. This book, one of a series, is a creative and clever way to harness this natural exploration within literature and rich storytelling. [middle grade, ages 8 and up]
Story Box: Create Your Own Fairy Tales by Magma and Anne Laval
Last but not least, meet Story Box (there is a Halloween version too)! Inclusivity can be about representation, values, setting, and expression, but also engagement. What I love about Story Box is that anyone can be a writer or a reader. One doesn’t even need to be able to read or write. Just understand or want to explore the concept of story. Story Box is a collection of wordless plot and narrative cards that readers/writers can assemble puzzle-style into their own tales. Lending one’s own voice to these recognizable characters and fun situations offers playfulness, flexibility and endless rewriting. This box is the ultimate in fairy tale subversion and empowers all, no matter where they are in their literary journey, to make their voices heard. [card game, for ages 4 and up]
5 Book Giveaway of High-Five to the Hero
We are giving away five copies of High-Five to the Hero. Please fill out the Rafflecopter at the bottom to enter. We can only mail to U.S. addresses.
Vita Murrow is an author, artist and educator. Kirkus magazine described her debut children’s title Power to the Princess, an anthology of fairy tales retold with a feminist twist, as “brilliant.” Vita also collaborates on wordless pictures books together with her husband Ethan Murrow. Their book The Whale was nominated for a CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal.
Vita earned her MSEd in Education and Teaching Literacy from the Bank Street College of Education in New York City, and holds a BFA from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA. Vita previously directed a regional school literacy program and served as a teacher in New York City and Seattle.
Vita grew up performing in theatre in her home town of Minneapolis, MN. It was there that she developed her love of imaginative play and great storytelling.