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Feminist Fairy Tales Paperback – December 6, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1 edition (December 6, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062513206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062513205
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,238,864 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Walker has applied her considerable scholarship to re-spin classic fairy tales, reinterpret folklore staples and write a few original stories of her own in a manner that reflects a serious?and sometimes funny?feminist mind. Wordplay groaners (characters named Barbidol, Devi Jones, Lowkey) and contemporary mores, terms and conveniences in ancient settings (running water, a silicon-based race, true-crime stories, private schools) may amuse some. But the strength of the work lies in rich, lyrical straight pieces like "The Descent of Shaloma," "The Oracle" and "The White God." In perfect read-aloud cadence, the stories elevate women to the heroic roles: Gorga, who umasks the dragon; Ugly, who lives narcissism-free with the Beast; Jill, who descends the beanroot into the earth; Ala Dean, who asks the lamp not for riches but for peace and equality; White Riding Hood, who feeds the hunter to the wolves. Walker introduces each of the 28 stories with a brief commentary on its origins and meaning?from Gotterdammerung to Jung. Her feminism is couched in complexities that make this a book to build a seminar around. Illustrated by Laurie Harden.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

YA?Traditional fairy tales describe the princess (or heroine) as beautiful, obedient, generous, and kind; of all these, beauty is the most prized attribute. Walker's women are gutsy, resourceful, realistic, and firmly in tune with nature; their beauty comes from within. In "Ugly and the Beast" (one of the turnabout stories), Ugly is loved by her family and by the Beast for her sweetness; her far-from-perfect looks are irrelevant. "Princess Questa" confronts her fears of making changes, and, with growing confidence, takes control of her life. Environmental messages are woven into such stories as "White Riding Hood" and "The White God." Antiviolence themes appear in "Barbidol"; in "Snow Night," the good stepmother effectively thwarts the attempted rape and murder of her stepdaughter. The excellent explanations that precede each story provide scholarly references to Babylonian, Sumerian, Biblical, Greek, Roman, Celtic, and German myths and creation stories. The author's writing style is witty, whimsical, creative, clever, mostly smooth, and only occasionally heavy-handed in message. Her 28 stories belong in all YA collections. The book can be used for booktalking and as a source for creative writing or short-story assignments. It is not, however, for those who believe in the very traditional views of women. These fairy tales are tools for empowerment.?Judy Sokoll, Fairfax County Public Library, VA
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Barbara G. Walker, author of The Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects, and many other books, is a member of the Morris Museum Mineralogical Society and the Trailside Mineral Club of the New Jersey Earth Science Association.

Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Janis A. Varo on May 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book was terrible. The women in it are not anymore powerful than in traditional fairy tales (and they are involved with both attempted rape and domestic violence because they pick the wrong guys--they are sooo powerful because they kick men in the crotch to escape!). Plus, it seems that it is ok to say that men who are ugly are not as good as men who are attractive--basically she is advocating being a sexist as long as it is not against women. She also seems to have missed the fact that lots of "negative" aspects of traditional fairy tales (esp wolves) serve an allegorical purpose and taking them all so literally only makes her new stories very dull and wooden as she tries so hard to correct thses "mistakes". Please, please read Fearless Girls, Wise Women, and Beloved Sisters by Kathleen Ragan instead--far and above the best book with strong female heroines in a fairy tale/folktale setting!!
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Caterpillar Girl on December 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Although Walker says that she was tired of hearing about "beautiful princesses" waiting to be rescued by princes, I noticed that almost all of the illustrations of her heroines depicted lovely young women, albeit wielding swords or looking competent in some way. Also, I was hoping to give this book to a younger cousin, but after reading it, I decided against it. In several of the stories the women are sexually harrassed and/or assualted. Although women do face these threats, I think I'd approach the subject a little differently with children. Still, I will say that I enjoyed most of her stories. The "Goddess" and "wiccan/natural theology" themes were incorporated in many stories. Some of these retellings were clever, others predictable. Bottom-line: good for earth-mother, liberal, or literature-focused feminists and fairy-tale fans looking for more modern adaptations, bad for younger audiences, or conservative, traditional fairy-tale fans.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 10, 1998
Format: Paperback
This book is not the basic fairy tale written from an exclusivly "girl power" viewpoint. Yes, it has the heroines rescuing the prince, or rescuing themselves when they get bored waiting for the prince, but it is also about female spirtuality, goddess religion, and filled with folklore and legends that have long since been lost to the general public.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A. Walters on December 17, 1997
Format: Paperback
On the whole, a fun book. I bought it initially for reading to my cousin on an upcoming trip to Di$ney, to try to counteract the typical feminine stereotypes. Ashley, age 8, didn't get it. I liked most of the stories, especially the ones from different cultures, but often felt unsatisfied. Ms. Walker occasionally just reverses the stereotypes instead of truly creating unique characters. But a few of the stories' twists really work, especially "Snow Night" and (i'm blanking on the name, the one that's a take off of George and the Dragon).
This book might be good for teachers (from 6th grade -> college level students) to illustrate how familiar tales can be retold, perhaps encouraging the class to do likewise.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Reader X on October 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
Telling fairy tales to young ones used to worry me. Should we teach that all a girl needs in life is to find a Prince Charming to make them happy? Should we teach them that the beautiful are rewarded, and the ugly are happy only if transformed? Barbara Walker seems to believe that the only hope is to replace fairy tales with something much less offensive - rewritten "feminist fairy tales".

In the pages of her book we find rewritings called "Ugly and the Beast", "Little White Riding Hood" and "The Frog Princess". Unfortunately, they're all a bit laboured - the women are strong and ugly, but very, very predictable (although I still don't understand why Jill, now of beanstalk fame, travels to the "womb" of the earth and steals some new age crystals".

Walker lectures heavily, leaving no stone unturned - there is no elegant story-spinning here. If you want to read some true feminist fairy tales, leave Walker behind, leave Disney behind and get back to the originals. Read the real Brothers Grimm, read Angela Carter and Marina Warner's collections, read Italo Calvino, and Jacques Perrault. Many of these tales were feminist as originals, and it is only the later versions that have become saccharin-sweet.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By RH on May 28, 2012
Format: Paperback
I was extremely disappointed in this book. I purchased this title because I had a read a similar book that I enjoyed. This book I did not enjoy. The book is poorly written and reads like a newsletter rather than a novel. The author spends a full page explaining the following story and often contradicts the introduction within the story. The author also pushes religious views, political views, and other personal views entirely unrelated to feminism or even women in general within every tale.

The "alternatives" to traditional fairy tales (example: Snow Night/Snow White & Ala Din/Aladdin) are so poorly done I could barely bring myself to finish the story. The extremely naive view the author takes with human behavior makes the characters difficult to swallow, much less imagine.

The main thing that annoyed me about this book is that instead of showing women as independent and capable of being their own person, versus the traditional "damsel in distress," it reads like the women are puppets to merely shove the author's view points down your throat. Don't get me wrong, I agree with a few of the view points but even I would hate a person who tried to force it like this author does.

Something else that bothered me while reading this is the "subtle" nods to the original story. When someone does this you expect it to be light, again, SUBTLE, and amusing. The author fails to capture any of these qualities and instead ends up looking like that friend everyone has on Facebook who posts photos going "Like OMG LOOK AT THIS I AM SO AWESOME LOOK DAMN U!!!" <<<-- This is not subtle, this is not amusing, and this is most of all very annoying.
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