Fracturing Fairy Tales – adaptations of interest

The Little Match Girl

When using fairy tales, it is quite fascinating to realise that many students are unaware of traditional of tales that older generations take for granted. During class discussions, some students can name popular stories – often familiar from a movie. This means that there are endless opportunities to introduce young people to different textual versions and encourage their creativity in composing their own story.

I like to begin by working through basic terminology and metalanguage, such as considering the context, audience, and purpose, followed by the components of narrative structure, including the coda. This provides students with a framework for research into a specific tale before they create a story.

Try modeling your expectations in class by examining two or three fairy tales. Disney’s The Little Match Girl is instantly appealing, surprisingly unknown, as the narrative unfolds through animation and music. At six and half minutes, it is suitable for repeated viewings and study during a lesson. Find the best version here:

Students should be able to identify the orientation, complication, rising action, and climax. Further discussion may be needed to explore the harsh living conditions of urban Europe in the nineteenth century which should allow students to nominate the theme or coda.

Build on their knowledge and understanding by examining a contemporary version of the tale using a poem from Ron Koertge’s Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses.

Lies Knives & Girls in REd Dresses

Illustrated by Andrea Dezso, this delightful book was produced by Candlewick Press in 2012. Read the publisher’s appealing synopsis:

Once upon a time, a strung-out match girl sold CDs to stoners. Twelve impetuous sisters escaped Daddy’s clutches to jiggle and cavort and wear out their shoes. Bluebeard’s latest wife discovered she’d married a serial killer. And Little Red Riding Hood confessed that she kind of wanted to know what it’s like to be swallowed whole.

You see, Ron Koertge knows what really happened to all those wolves and maidens, ogres and orphans, kings and piglets of fairy tales, and he knows about the Ever After. So come closer – he wants to whisper in your ear.



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