Adventures in Reading

Revisted Reviews: Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked by Orenstein

In my experience of feminist discourse, now and again fairy tales and their influence on people as children and as adults just seem to pop up. Orenstein gives us an entire book on the Little Red Riding Hood tale including the original tale, different versions that have cropped up, a multitude of interpretations that have been viewed, as well as the modern use of the tale. I loved this book right up to the end where I felt Orenstein took an easy cop out through a poorly argued use of women’s empowerment with red riding hood and porn/fantasy.

I definitely want to reread Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked. I picked up this book shortly after concluding a course in children’s literature where a good portion of the course, or at least my involvement in it, was spent looking at the agenda of children’s literature and the influence it has on children versus adults. In retrospect, I think Orenstein did a terrific job building up to a conclusion that poorly dismissed many of the earlier arguments. From what I recall, the final chapter attempts an argument of reclamation and specifically that women can reclaim, redescribe, and reinvent this fairy tale to suit our own needs. I can’t say I completely disagree but after such a well-written and researched book I felt it was presented in a poor manner.

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Revisted: The Sisters Grimm: The Problem Child by Michael Buckley

The third book in the series picks up at the cliffhanger The Unusual Suspect leaves us at. In this book of the series Little Red Riding Hood is a certified loonie and with her “kitten” the Jabberwocky she wreaks havoc on Ferryport. A mysterious and magic using uncle shows up and the girls continue their quest to find their parents. Buckley in some ways has further developed his wit and incorporates an “anti-drug” theme through issues of the eldest Grimm, Sabrina, becoming addicted to magic. As much as I enjoyed this book Buckley has fallen prey to the problems that develop with reintroducing the story: a lot of description is very repetitive and retelling the plot is rather tedious (i.e. Baby Sitter’s Club anyone?) and I found myself scanning through much of this. Otherwise, once again I give kudos to Buckley for intertwining fairy tales, folklore, and myths in an engaging way as well as picking certain themes to specifically target children.

I concur!

Other opinions: Book Nut.

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The Snow Queen by Mercedes Lackey

When I learned that Mercedes Lackey already had a new book coming out in the Five Hundred Kingdom series, I could not resist adding my name to the list at the library. The Snow Queen by Mercedes Lackey is a reinterpretation of Hans Christian Anderson’s beloved fairy tale by the same name. In Lackey’s retelling, Godmother Aleksia actually assumes the role of the “terrible” Snow Queen and under this guise helps wayward magic souls nearing the dark side by helping them appreciate the love, bounty, etc. they already have at hand. But when a Traditional Snow Queen starts operation next store and the blame of ever winter and entire villages dying is blamed on Aleksia the real story begins.

The Snow Queen is set apart from the other stories in the series mostly because of Godmother Aleksia: prior to becoming a Godmother Aleksia was unwittingly pursuing a Traditional story where she would kill her sister to marry her brother-in-law. Even when she is rescued from this and set in place as the Snow Queen, Aleksia remains concerned how her isolation and solitude makes the dark side in many ways appealing.

The Snow Queen is an enjoyable summer read and more similar to the first two novels in the series. Oddly enough I keep finding fragments of Terry Pratchett throughout this series, and either Lackey is paying homage to my favorite fantasy writer or I’m looking for him where he doesn’t exist! But the two authors employ some similar ideas when it comes to story telling and tradition.