Guest Post: Top 10 List with Jessica Grey

Today I'm turning my blog over to the amazing Jessica Grey -- you may remember her from my review of Awake: A Fairytale last week. Sit back and enjoy, as Jessica shares her Top 10 list! Also, because Jessica is so awesome, she told me I could interject my commentary on her picks - so I'll be the one writing in [blue brackets]. Just so you know.

Hi! My name is Jessica and I love fairy tales!  I've recently published an adaptation of Sleeping Beauty called Awake: A Fairytale that Rebecca was nice enough to review here on A Word's Worth.  She asked me if I wanted to a guest post about fairy tale adaptations, and course my answer was yes!  So, without further ado, here are the Top Ten Fairytale Adaptations as picked by me (this is a very, very subjective list).

10.  The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, picture book, Jon Scieszka
Anyone who has read any picture books will be forced to admit that Jon Scieszka is kind of a genius.  If you haven't loved his books then there might be something actually wrong with you.  Okay, that might be a little strong, but it's still probably true.  The True Story of the Three Little Pigs is told from the perspective of the wolf, and it's hilarious.  I may quote it randomly.  It's a classic skewed fairytale, making the villain out to be the hero, or in this case, at least not as much of a villain.  I mean, really, who wastes a perfectly good ham dinner when they find one? [Ham? Pshaw, he was really after the bacon.]

9.  Sleeping Beauty, picture book, Mahlon and K.Y. Craft
My list is a little bit Sleeping Beauty heavy because that is the story that is Awake is based on.  The illustrations in this book are so jaw-droppingly gorgeous though that it should be on everyone's list.  The story is very well done, although perhaps not quite up to par with pictures, but that's really more the fault of the illustrations being out of this world good than the narration being severely lacking.  There aren't all that many picture book versions of Sleeping Beauty in print, and I sometimes wonder if for the last ten years at least, illustrators have been to intimidated by this one to try their hand.  This book should definitely be in your picture book library!  

8.  Hoodwinked, film, The Weinstein Company
If you ever want to teach a class of English students about point of view - this is your movie!  In the tradition of The True Story of the Three Little Pigs and other turned on their head fairytales, Hoodwinked claims that all is not as it seems in the tale of Little Red Riding Hood.  One of the best parts of this movie is that it's done in classic caper comedy style.  The computer animation is very well done, and it's funny, clever, and clean.  And luckily, unlike with some shows/movies the writers manage to not "out-clever" themselves by being too cutesy.  The voice acting is also amazing, Patrick Warburton as the Wolf is genius.

7.  Once Upon a Time/Grimm, tv shows, ABC and NBC 
I've lumped these two together because they've both only been on for a short while, but so far I am enjoying them both for different reasons.  Sometimes t.v. shows seem to come in groups (medical shows in the 1990s for example) and this is really the year of the fairytale with two shows on prime time and two different Snow White movies coming out!  Once Upon a Time has a slight edge in my affections because it is just SO good.  The premise behind Once Upon a Time is that all the fairytale characters lived together in a land/wood, and then they were transported to this world by the evil queen from Snow White and all live in the town of Storybrooke, Maine.  They don't remember who they truly are, and according to the little boy Henry, it is up to Emma, Snow and Charming's daughter to help them remember.  The acting is stellar, the back stories the writers are giving the characters is brilliant, and I adore Snow and Charming.
Grimm is really interesting because it  meshes many of the characters and concepts (mostly all the creepy creatures) from fairytales into a police procedural.  The main character, Nick, is a cop who has just recently learned from his dying aunt that he is a Grimm.  His family is tasked with protecting humanity against all the monsters that live among us...monsters that we've read about in fairytales.  The genius behind the show is that it pairs completely creeptastic monsters and effects with the comic relief of Monroe, a reformed Blutblad (big bad wolf).  Silas Weir Mitchell who plays Monroe knocks it out of the park during every single one of his scenes. 
I'm kind of glad these shows are on at the same time because they give us both sides of fairytales.  Although there is real evil in Once Upon a Time, it's still a sort of beautiful and fantastical evil, whereas Grimm is very gritty and takes on that evil straight on.  But on the flip side, without the delicate beauty of Once Upon a Time to counter Grimm, I think viewers would be missing out on the whole range of human emotion that fairytales encompass.

6.  Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theater - DVD
This ran on cable, which I did not have as a child, but it was also released on VHS and I remember renting episodes all the time.  Especially the Cinderella episode with Jennifer Beals and Matthew Broderick.  The evil stepsister's line "Perhaps some haaaam?" became a favorite saying in our family.  The episodes (really more like almost full-length movies) are incredibly well produced, stick very close to the original story lines with some quirky humor thrown in, and feature stars from the 80s like Carrie Fisher [heh...], Christopher Reeve [Clark Kent! Clark Kent in a fairy tale!!! How did I never know this??? I may swoon.], and directed by famous directors such as Francis Ford Coppola and Tim Burton.  There's a new DVD set that includes all 26 episodes fully restored and it is on my wish list!

5.  Tangled, film, Disney
This movie rocks.  Seriously.  The animation is gorgeous, the story is tight and entertaining, the voice acting is amazing, and Flynn Rider is hot. [Ahem.]  Did I just actually say that? [Yes, yes you did.] Why yes, yes I did. [I'm glad we agree.] He may be fictional (and animated) but he is ridiculously adorable. [Flynn is the total package, whatchu talkin' about?]  Rapunzel is no slouch either.  I like that she has equal parts of bravery and sensitivity.  The animal characters in Tangled are both cute without being annoying, Maximus is a big winner at our house, and Mother Gothel is satisfyingly creepy.  I honestly cannot find a single thing wrong with this movie...and Zachary Levi sings! [I may swoon again.] Win.

4.  Spindle's End, YA novel, Robin McKinley
I adore how McKinley writes magic, in fact the entire first chapter of this book is about the magic in the kingdom into which the princess who becomes Sleeping Beauty is born, and it's genius.  There are two types of McKinley books, the earlier ones which are a bit more straightforward, and then the later ones that are much more dense and lyrically written [you mean the ones that're so detailed, they infiltrate your dreams!] - people usually like one or the other, but I'm a fan of both her styles [I knew I liked you].  To me Spindle's End is the midway book, you get all that gorgeous prose but still get the fresh and open feel of her earlier books.  The first part of the book centers on Katriona the young fairy who is entrusted with hiding the infant princess from the evil fairy Pernicia who has cursed her.  The reader gets to watch the Princess, Rosie, grow up and see how her circumstances and environment have shaped her.  The last part of the book is in Rosie's point of view as she learns about, and come to terms with, her heritage.  McKinley is wonderful at creating wholly developed worlds and Spindle's End makes you feel like you are there with the characters.
3.  Sleeping Beauty, film, Disney
This one has to be on the list!  My novel is a twist on Sleeping Beauty after all! But in all honesty, Sleeping Beauty is my favorite of the Disney Princess movies.  I love the animation, it reminds me of beautiful stained glass windows.  I'm also from Southern California so Sleeping Beauty's castle is THE Disney castle in my mind.  The best part about this movie?  Prince Phillip.  He's awesome.  I've written a whole treatise on why he is awesome over on my blog if you are interested. [It's true. She has. And it's really good, you should read it.]

2.  Princess Furball, picture book, Charlotte Huck
Princess Furball is a picture book adaptation of Thousand Furs, a fairy tale that I adore and hope someday to adapt myself into novel format [wha? I've never heard of this...I think I need to find this! Fur + fairy tales = great mix in my experience].  This adaptation is PG rated (as in her father wants to marry her off to an ogre, not marry her himself as in many original versions of the story) and the illustrations are lovely.  When I was young I used to babysit a girl named Alexandra (yes, the Alex in my book is named after her) and she had a copy of this book that I insisted on reading to her every time I babysat.  She was so tired of it after a few years, but I kept insisting cause I love this book (and she put up with me cause she's awesome)!  When she went off to college (yikes that makes me sound old [we are old, hehe]) she gave me the book as a gift.   I still love it!

1.  Beauty, YA novel, Robin McKinley
Yes, I have two McKinley books on this list, what can I say?  This is quite possibly my favorite YA novel fairytale adaptation.  It's a pretty straight up retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but I love McKinley's lyrical language and in my opinion, no one writes magic better.  McKinley wrote another Beauty and the Beast version years later called Rose Daughter, and people fall into two camps - the Beauty camp or the Rose Daughter camp.  I am in the first but I know my lovely host, Rebecca, is firmly in the second camp [I love 'em both, just in totally different ways...They're such different stories, to be the same story. I'm in awe, quite honestly].  I love Rose Daughter, it's dark and lovely and has gorgeous language, but Beauty has my heart for it's simple and open honesty.  I love how McKinley treats the magic in the Beast's castle and the relationship between Beauty and her horse, Greatheart, is genuine and believable.  I could probably write a ten page paper on why this book is so great, but you'll just have to take my word...or read it yourself! [Definitely read it!] 

Now that I've shared my favorite fairy tale retellings, what are some of yours?

Thanks so much, Jessica, for sharing! And for letting me interject commentary, haha... While some of your selections are familiar, others are new to me --  I must track these down! If you enjoyed Jessica's guest post, and want more of her delightful takes on life and literature, check out her website!


  1. Jessica, What a fun list! I enjoyed reading it and Rebecca , I loved your commentary too! I was only familiar with about half of your list. We used to check out the Shelley Duval's Faerie Tale Theatre DVDs from the library. Of course, we LOVE Tangled and Sleeping Beauty! I've never read anything by Robin McKinley, I may have to.

  2. Thanks for having me Rebecca! I enjoyed your commentary and somehow I KNEW it would be centered on Flynn's hotness and Robin McKinley's awesomeness ;) And yes, Clark Kent in a fairy tale. For real. Must have.

    Candy, thanks! I hope you check out McKinley, you would really enjoy her books I think!

  3. I haven't read many fairytale adaptations, but I did read Beauty and loved it. Of course, I had a crush on the horse Greatheart. And I loved Tangled. Crush on Maximus, the horse.

    I may have issues.

  4. Jennifer, both of those horses are very loveable :)

  5. AGAIN!! Are we twins separated at birth or what??
    My favorites (from this list):
    3 Little Pigs, Faerie Tale Theatre (we watched those all the time, borrowed from the library!!), Spindle's End (on my bookshelf, hardcover. Love it!), Tangled (on of my favorite Disney movies!), Sleeping Beauty (Aurora is also MY favorite princess. I'll have to take a pic of all my Aurora stuff), Beauty (this is the book that made me love YA fantasy. I knew I wanted to write like McKinley <3).

    Love the post, twin of mine! ;)

  6. Melissa,

    We might be long-lost twins! I love McKinley and Beauty is the book that made me love YA fantasy too! If I could write magic 1/2 as well as her I would be happy ;)

  7. I have not yet had time to read the whole post (busy Nancy!) but I am dying at Rebecca's commentary. I think Luke is the total package too. ;)

  8. I've been cracking up at the comments coming in, hehe ... Thanks, Jessica, for such a wonderful guest post. And I'm glad people are enjoying the added commentary - I asked Jess for permission, because as I read over it, I was literally saying these things :o)

    Nancy, Luke very well may be...I'd have to see him in a movie to know for sure ;o)

  9. Yeah, Luke is the total package. No movie needed (but let's all just imagine for a moment how awesome that would be...)