8 Kids’ Books That Put Modern Spins On Classic Fairy Tales
Cinderella's a space-mechanic, Little Red Riding Hood's a black belt, and Goldilocks isn't into grand larceny.
Not all classic fairy tales age well. A woman who lives with 7 dwarves? That’s odd no matter how you spin it. A man-beast who falls in love with the most gorgeous girl in town? That’s illegal in most states. And of course there’s the off-message of all those damsels in distress. Thankfully there’s a small army of authors who have put their own modern spins on such tales as Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, and the 3 Little Pigs. Not only do they give them a relevant update, but they also dispense with some of the graphic violence. Spilled innards and snapped necks may have played in the 19th century, but not so much with your 21st century toddler.
This version of Cinderella is no longer a slipper-wearing, husband-chasing gal. Instead, she’s a robot-loving grease monkey who knows her way around a space engine. No glass shoe here — it’s her wrench that gets left behind after she fixes the prince’s ship. The typical gender roles are also flipped: the prince asks for her hand, but Cindy insists on being his chief mechanic instead. (Smart move — those guys make bank.)
Ages: 4 – 7Interstellar Cinderella By Deborah Underwood ($12)
Goldy Luck And The 3 Pandas
Come for the remake of Goldilocks; stay for the turnip cake recipe! Goldy is asked by her mother to deliver cakes to their neighbors — who happen to be giant pandas. When she finds out nobody’s home, Goldy tries out their soup, chairs, and beds. The Chans of course find her. But, Goldy makes it up to her neighbors by helping whip up a new batch of soup to help them celebrate Chinese New Year. Apparently it’s the Year Of The Klepto.
Ages: 4 – 8Goldy Luck And The 3 Pandas By Natasha Yim ($13)
A disgruntled fairy vows that Baby Princess Marge will not only fall into a deep sleep in her late teens (doesn’t that happen naturally?), but also transform into a dragon — a dragon who snores like a backfiring Harley. This modern retelling of Sleeping Beauty includes some subtle winks that adults will appreciate. Who can’t relate to a kid with wall-shaking snores? Fortunately, your fairy brought you a CPAP machine.
Ages: 4 – 7Snoring Beauty By Bruce Hale ($15)
Three Little Fish And The Big Bad Shark
This 3 Little Pigs remake follows the same beats as the classic, but the setting is the deep sea, the pigs are fish, and the wolf is a shark. The fish are more clever than the shark, and in the end he loses his teeth trying to eat an old wooden boat. (Hey, it worked in Jaws.) This forces him to become a vegetarian. But your kid already knew that “fish are friends, not food.”
Ages: 2 – 4Three Little Fish And The Big Bad Shark By Ken Geist ($7)
Ninja Red Riding Hood
The Big Bad Wolf gets his furry ass handed to him so often that he enlists in karate school. His plan? To sneak up on Little Red and Grandma using his newfound fight skills. Too bad Hood and Grandma are karate masters. Wolf eventually taps out to the duo and decides to practice yoga instead. This leads to the inevitable spinoff: Vegan wolf hipsters who overcharge Hood for cold pressed juice.
Ages: 5 – 8Ninja Red Riding Hood By Corey Rosen Schwartz ($12)
The Princess And The Pig
A pig and a princess switch places, and this time the pig gets the short end of the stick. The story draws from various fairy tales, including The Frog Princess and The Prince And The Pauper, and acknowledges that it’s doing so. Mirror mirror on the wall … who’s the most self-referential early childhood book of them all?
Ages: 4 – 8The Princess And The Pig By Jonathan Emmett ($17)
Tell The Truth B.B. Wolf
This is the Rashomon version of the pigs tale. In it, the Big Bad Wolf (that dude is everywhere) is invited to tell his side of the 3 Little Pigs story and paints himself to be the victim. Each tiny oinker interrupts, however, urging him to tell what actually happens. He finally tells the accurate version, and also builds a mansion for the pigs — just as a good PR move.
Ages: 3 – 7Tell The Truth B.B. Wolf By Judy Sierra ($13)
The Three Billy Goats Fluff
In this classic, the 3 goats still have a bridge to cross and an annoyed under-dweller to deal with, but this version is gentler than the original (that one ends with some dangerous eye-gouging). This time Mr. Troll is angry because the 3 goats keep waking him up on their way to and from school. The goats eventually solve the problem, with some assistance from mom, and learn how to be good neighbors. If it wasn’t obvious, you’re the troll shaking his fist on the lawn.
Ages: 4-7The Three Billy Goats Fluff By Rachael Mortimer ($14)
This article was originally published on