It’s hard to think of a group of stories as closely associated with childhood as fairy tales. These timeless tales remain timeless because of the themes and lessons learned, but from Disney movies to the Grimms’ versions, variations can be as different as the people who tell them. Sometimes you need a refreshing take on the well-known story, and that’s where fractured fairy tales come in! Whether the hero has become the villain, or the characters are smarter than their earlier versions might suggest, or if the setting moved to a completely different part of the world, fractured fairy tales can add a new perspective or another element of enjoyment to storytime. For subversive spins, feminist renditions, and updated versions with regional slang, check out these fun fractured fairy tales for your next summer reading adventure!

Bo the Brave

Bo the Brave
by Bethan Woollvin

Once, there lived a feisty little girl called Bo. Bo wanted to be just like her brothers and capture a fearsome monster, but her brothers say she’s too small. Bo isn’t one to take no for an answer, so she sets off on a quest to catch a monster of her own. Can she defeat the furious griffin, conquer the hideous kraken, and triumph over the monstrous dragon? Or has Bo got the wrong idea who the real monsters are?

Author-illustrator Bethan Woollvin, creator of the New York Times Best Illustrated Little Red, employs her signature style in this original fairy tale with a clever twist. Readers are sure to fall in love with Woollvin’s newest vibrant and sassy protagonist in this brilliantly funny medieval adventure.

Hansel & GretelHansel & Gretel
by Bethan Woollvin

Deep in the forest lives a witch named Willow. She is a good witch, who only uses good magic―until she meets Hansel and Gretel. Willow never used to worry about messy breadcrumb trails. Or entire portions of her gingerbread house being devoured. Or anyone fiddling with her spells and magic books and causing a ruckus. But Hansel and Gretel are two very naughty and very rude children, and they are trying Willow’s patience.

With Bethan Woollvin’s striking three-color illustrations, this subversive and deliciously wicked retelling of “Hansel & Gretel” has a twist ending that is sure to surprise and delight. Make your own Hansel and Gretel with these activity sheets!

by Bethan Woollvin

Rapunzel lives all alone in a tall, dark tower. Under the threat of a witch’s fearsome curse, the poor girl seems doomed to a life in captivity. But is Rapunzel frightened? Oh no, not she!

With irreverent humor and striking illustrations, this empowering and delightfully dark twist on the classic  features a strong heroine who doesn’t need a man to to climb her tower and rescue her. Check out the teacher’s guide for discussion questions and activity ideas!

Little RedLittle Red
by Bethan Woollvin

On her way to Grandma’s house, Little Red meets a wolf. Which might scare some little girls. But not this little girl. She knows just what the wolf is up to, and she’s not going to let him get away with it.

Featuring sly humor, striking visuals, and dark irreverence, this updated version of “Little Red Riding Hood” has a deliciously mischievous twist ending that will empower readers have them looking back for clues throughout the story. Check out the teacher’s guide!

The Boy Who Cried NinjaThe Boy Who Cried Ninja
by Alex Latimer

Tim witnesses some strange happenings around his house, but no one believes his explanations. In fact, no matter what Tim says, his parents just punish him with chores. To save himself, he hatches a clever plan to expose the truth. Will it work, or will Tim have to spend the rest of his life raking the yard?

Bubbling with wit and humor from start to finish this quirky twist on the fable The Boy Who Cried Wolf, with wacky characters like ninjas, pirates, crocodiles, and time-traveling monkeys, will have readers of all ages laughing out loud.

Princess and Packet of Frozen Peas PBThe Princess and the Packet of Frozen Peas
by Tony Wilson
illustrated by Sue deGennaro

Sometimes real princesses can be too sensitive! Prince Henrik wants to marry an outdoorsy kind of girl, so instead of a single pea tucked into a pile of bedding, Henrik tests prospective brides with an entire packet of frozen peas shoved under a flimsy camping mattress. Henrik despairs as princess after princess complains, until one day the just-right girl shows up unexpectedly in the form of his old friend, Pippa. Pippa is all too happy to join Henrik in pitching a tent or playing a hard game of hockey, after which she finds the perfect use for that packet of frozen peas!

This modern take on “The Princess and the Pea” delivers a freshly humorous take on one prince’s search for the girl of his dreams.

Prince RibbitPrince Ribbit
by Jonathan Emmett
illustrated by Poly Bernatene

Fairy tales are just stories—or so Princess Martha believes. But when her sisters meet a talking frog, they’re convinced that giving him the royal treatment will turn him into Prince Charming. After all, that’s what happens in their story books. Martha isn’t so sure. The more she sees of Prince Ribbit, the more suspicious she becomes. Armed with the facts, Martha sets out to expose Prince Ribbit and prove to her sisters that “just because it’s in a book doesn’t mean it’s true.” But before “The End,” Princess Martha might just learn that lesson for herself!

This clever twist on the “The Frog Prince” pits a spunky, bespectacled princess against a sly amphibian to teach a charming lesson on the pitfalls of trusting everything you read. After reading this ‘ribbeting’ story, continue the fun with these activity sheets!

Ol Bloos Boogie Woogie Band and Blues EnsembleOl’ Bloo’s Boogie-Woogie Band and Blues Ensemble
by Jan Huling
illustrated by Henri Sorensen

Ol’ Bloo has spent year after year hauling cotton and dreaming of the day when he could retire from the fields and become a honky-tonk singer. But when he overhears Farmer Brown’s ominously permanent retirement plan for him, Ol’ Bloo decides it’s time to hit the road. Brayin’ and hee-hawin’ his way toward the bright lights of New Orleans, Ol’ Bloo meets up with Gnarly Dog, One-Eyed Lemony Cat, and Rusty Red Rooster, all eager to join him for a lucrative second career. But when the ragtag quartet stumbles upon a tumbledown shack occupied by a band of thieves, their plans take a sudden and unexpected turn…

This down-home retelling of Grimm’s The Bremen Town Musicians set along the Texas-Louisiana border is filled with wit and charm, with illustrations that capture the unique backwoods setting and distinctive personalities of the characters.

The Three Armadillies TuffThe Three Armadillies Tuff
by Jackie Mims Hopkins
illustrated by S. G. Brooks

Three fun-loving armadillo sisters—Lilly, Jilly, and Dilly—need to cross a busy highway to get to the new dance hall. They decide the safest option is to scurry through the culvert that runs under the road. But inside the culvert lurks a spindly legged coyote with a big appetite for “armadilly chili.” The littlest sister, Lilly, manages to fast-talk her way past the coyote, as does her older sister, Jilly. When the coyote sees the size of the eldest, Dilly, she really starts licking her chops. But Dilly Armadilly Tuff is a stubborn gal with her own ideas about what a lonely coyote really needs!

This hilarious retelling of the classic children’s story “Three Billy Goats Gruff” features a southwestern twang and a delightful surprise ending.

Horned Toad Prince PBThe Horned Toad Prince
by Jackie Mims Hopkins
illustrated by Michael Austin

When your father tells you not to play near dry riverbeds, perhaps you should listen or your day may end up like Reba Jo’s. Spunky cowgirl Reba Jo loves riding all over the wild prairie and roping any critter unlucky enough to cross her path. But when her luck turns sour, she has to work with a horned toad to save her own hide. Reba Jo tries her darnedest to weasel out of her part of the bargain, but the clever horned toad won’t let her off the hook. In the end, she learns that a promise is a promise and words once spoken are not easily taken back.

This sizzling southwestern retelling of the fairy tale “The Frog Prince” colorfully transports young readers to the untamed, dusty prairie.

The Gold Miners DaughterThe Gold Miner’s Daughter:
A Melodramatic Fairy Tale
by Jackie Mims Hopkins
illustrated by Jon Goodell

Gracie Pearl lives with her pa deep in the heart of gold minin’ country. But the mine is empty and the two have fallen on hard times. Now the villainous banker Mr. Bigglebottom wants Gracie Pearl and her pa to pay back the money they owe him or he plans to take Gracie Pearl as his wife. As Gracie goes in search of gold she encounters a series of characters young readers will find strangely familiar—from a blonde girl who ate Bigglebottom’s porridge and is now pursued by three bears, to a very long-haired girl who he has locked up in a tower.

Humorous asides sprinkled throughout the text encourage young readers to play along with the story, and its surprise ending will please young and old alike.

Prairie Chicken LittlePrairie Chicken Little
by Jackie Mims Hopkins
illustrated by Henry Cole

Mary McBlicken is sure a stampede’s a comin’! She hurries to the ranch, gathering up her friends—a prairie dog, a jack rabbit, and a meadowlark—along the way. Before the fine feathered and furry folks get to their destination, they encounter a coyote who says he knows a shortcut. Should they trust him? Will they find Cowboy Stan and Red Dog Dan in time? And where is that rumbling coming from anyway?

This hilarious, prairie-style rendition of the well-loved tale “Chicken Little” will have readers laughing out loud and practicing their western prairie slang! Also check out the Spanish edition: La gallinita de la pradera.

Lemuel the FoolLemuel the Fool
by Myron Uhlberg
illustrated by Sonja Lamut

Lemuel is a fisherman and a fool. When he sets out on a journey across the sea, he makes sure to tie a red scarf on the bow and a rope to the stern; with the scarf waving before him and the rope trailing behind, he’ll always know he’s going the right direction. Disoriented after a storm, Lemuel lands near a strange new village—except that it’s strangely familiar, down to the woman who looks exactly like his own dear wife and even calls him by name. Later that night, a very confused Lemuel sets sail for home and away from the madness. With the red scarf before him and the rope trailing behind, he’s confident he’ll arrive at home again—and be safely back among the familiar.

A great fan of Jewish folklore, especially the rich tradition of “fools,” Myron Uhlberg also looked to his own family for inspiration when writing Lemuel the Fool.

Martina the Beautiful CockroachMartina the Beautiful Cockroach:
A Cuban Folktale

written by Carmen Agra Deedy
illustrated by Michael Austin

Martina the beautiful cockroach doesn’t know coffee beans about love and marriage. That’s where her Cuban family comes in. While some of the Cucarachas offer her gifts to make her more attractive, only Abuela, her grandmother, gives her something really useful: un consejo increíble, some shocking advice. At first, Martina is skeptical of her Abuela’s unorthodox suggestion, but when suitor after suitor fails the Coffee Test, she wonders if a little green cockroach can ever find true love. Soon, only the gardener Pérez, a tiny brown mouse, is left. But what will happen when Martina offers him café cubano?

After reading this sweet and witty retelling of the Cuban folktale, readers will never look at a cockroach the same way again. Check out the Spanish edition: Martina una cucarachita muy linda!


by Sam Gayton
illustrated by Alice Ratterree

Inspired by Gulliver’s Travels, Lilliput is an exhilarating and imaginative adventure filled with cunning escape plans, evil clock makers, and talkative parrots. Join Lily as she travels through eighteenth-century London―over rooftops, down chimneys, and into chocolate shops―on a journey to find the one place in the world where she belongs…home.

Bring Lilliput into middle grade book clubs with this free discussion guide.