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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Fairy Tale Imaginings

I love fairy tales, artists' take on fairy tales, and poems inspired by fairy tales.  Shaun Tan's sculptures based on the tales of the Brothers Grimm are wonderful illustrations of the paths creativity can take.

Little Red Riding Hood


The Frog King

Several years ago, I wrote a post about the following poem, an example of a contemporary imagining of a fairy tale.  It remains a favorite.

How to Change a Frog into a Prince

Anna Denise
Start with the underwear. Sit him down.
Hopping on one leg may stir unpleasant memories.
If he gets his tights on, even backwards, praise him.
Fingers, formerly webbed, struggle over buttons.
Arms and legs, lengthened out of proportion, wait,
as you do, for the rest of him to catch up.
This body, so recently reformed, reclaimed,
still carries the marks of its time as a frog. Be gentle.
Avoid the words awkward and gawky.
Do not use tadpole as a term of endearment.
His body, like his clothing, may seem one size too big.
Relax. There's time enough for crowns. He'll grow into it.

Some poems are difficult to understand and require multiple readings, and I love poems like that, poems that require intuition and effort. But I love poems like this one - poems that are instantly accessible, a bit silly and a bit serious. I love poems that "connect," as this one does to something that I'm reading or thinking about.

An easy poem, "How to Change a Frog into a Prince" is about transformation, and we are all transforming, but it is also about patience and kindness. It is tongue-in-cheek and perceptive - a gentle blend. It seems to say that love of all kinds requires acceptance and that princes, children, friends, lovers, and spouses are all subject to growth, to change, and that we have a role in these transitions. And humor helps. "Relax. There's time enough for crowns. He'll grow into it." Maybe we will, too.


  1. Those pieces are spectacular...well I can say that about the first and third ones because I know those fairy tales. I'm not familiar with All-Kinds-of-Fur, but I suspect it's equally spectacular. :-)

    1. I am not familiar with All-Kinds-of-Fur either, but I liked the image. :)

  2. Those sculptures are gorgeous. I like the poem too. I'm with you I like challenging poems but sometimes it is nice to have ones that are straightforward and immediately understandable.

    1. I love the expression on the wolf's face! Shaun Tan's work is so elegantly simple. :)

  3. Replies
    1. Aren't they fun? Such wonderful interpretations!

  4. The sculptures are awesome! And I love that poem too!

    1. :) I think I'm going to buy one of his picture books--for me, not for kids.