Book review by Aarene Stormes: Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses

Thursday, August 30, 2012

By Aarene Storms, youth services librarian
Richmond Beach Library, KCLS    

Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses  by Ron Koertge
illustrated by Andrea Dezso

...For a while, the queen is content.  There's the baby
with skin like snow and the golden goblets
and the pomegranate juice and the rocking
and the cooing.  But there's always that small fire
just under her collarbone.

She summons the hunters, hard men with callused hands.
She asks, "Isn't there a wolf in the forest with teeth
the better to eat me with?"

"Indeed there is, your majesty, but--"
"No buts.  Have someone fetch my red cape.
And tell the king not to wait up."

The little match girl sells CDs on the corner, fifty cents to any stoner/any homeboy with a boner.   The Beast muses that he and Beauty are very happy now, but that sometimes he brushes his perfect teeth and remembers when they were fangs. And Bluebeard's wife agrees that her husband is weird ... but omigod that castle!

Twenty three familiar stories.  Folktales originally collected and retold by the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Anderson are collected and retold again by Ron Koertge...and this time, the stories are tilted a little differently.

Strong, sexy, sassy, violent, warped, and more than slightly kinky, these tales-in-verse are not the Disney version.  There isn't always "happy", but without doubt, these versions will stick with the reader "forever after."

With the new attention being given to old tales on television programs like Grimm and Once Upon a Time, this slender volume of fractured tales and striking illustrations will easily find an audience.  Recommended for readers 14 to adult.

Minor cussing, sexual imagery and sexual situations, references to violence...just like the original folktales from which they were derived.


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