June 27, 2013
Grumbles from the Forest by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich, illustrations by Matt Mahurin
Grumbles from the Forest:
Fairy-Tale Voices with a Twist
by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich,
illustrations by Matt Mahurin
Fans of both poetry and fairy tales would do well to explore this collection of poems by Jane Yolen and Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Each two-page spread throughout the book features a certain fairy tale including The Three Bears, Thumbelina, Little Red Riding Hood. Each tale is retold with a pair of poems — sometimes a brief haiku, sometimes a longer free verse but always something a bit offbeat.
The Princess and the Pea features a lament from none other than the pea himself. This is followed by a poem from the princess in which she explains why she really couldn’t sleep.
Frog Prince tells two contradictory stories. The first is from the point of view of the abused frog turned prince. The second tells of a young princess who finds a cute frog and then dreams strange dreams.
If you know the work of either Yolen or Dotlich, it is fun to try to match the individual poems with the styles of each poet but there is a “cheat sheet” in the front of the book on the copy right page.
Matt Mahurin’s illustrations are the perfect pairing for these poems and range from apple cheeked Gretel to a sharp and sinister witch. Moody, dark and just a little creepy, his work helps readers question the sunny, happy versions of these stories as they wonder what we haven’t been told and why.
Yolen and Dotlich also encourage young readers to turn writer and make up their own poems, reimagining familiar tales, giving voice to a character long overlooked or simply coming at it from a different direction.
An excellent read for those who like to make up their own versions of familiar tales to tell into the dark of the night.