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Review: Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses
Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge, illustrated by Andrea Dezso. Candlewick Press. 2012. Reviewed from ARC from publisher.
The Plot: Fairy tales retold in free verse.
The Good: I love retold fairy tales, especially when they twist and tweak and turn inside out. You may remember that from my post about the TV show Once Upon A Time. Take something you think is familiar, look at it from a new direction, what new truths are there?
Most of these tales live in a world that is both modern and fairy tale. The first one is The Stepsisters, from Cinderella, and begins “I write this on a brailler, a kind of typewriter/ for the blind.” Like some (but not all) of these stories, it takes the viewpoint of a secondary character (the stepsisters) and makes references that are both non-fairy tale (a brailler) and classic (the birds pecking out their eyes.) It gives a different perspective: “Mother turned us against our stepsister,/ belittling her.”
My favorite of the short tales in Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses is Hansel and Gretel, perhaps because I’ve never quite liked the father: “Their parents want to kill them./ Not the father so much, but he’s a beaten dog./ A jellyfish, a limp noodle, a nobody.” Honestly, what type of father allows the abandonment of his children?
Readers who don’t just like fairy tales, but like when there is a bit of a different approach, will enjoy what Koertge does to old favorites.
Other reviews: Guys Lit Wire; and Professor Nana.
Filed under: Reviews
About Elizabeth Burns
Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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