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Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses Hardcover – July 10, 2012
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—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
A much-honored poet and novelist retells, in free verse and from various points of view, twenty-three familiar tales (mostly Grimm, Andersen, and Perrault). With a contemporary sensibility and voice, Koertge pitches directly to teenagers. . . Dezsö’s choice of cut-paper illustrations is brilliant, a nod to Hans C. Andersen’s skill in that medium despite the radically different tone.
—The Horn Book (starred review)
The poems beg to be shared aloud, like the best gossip. The sensibilities are wry, often dark, and the language is occasionally earthy... This slim volume is at once simple and sophisticated, witty and unnerving.
—School Library Journal
About the Author
Andrea Dezsö is a visual artist and writer who works across a broad range of media. She is a full-time faculty member at the Maryland Institute College of Art and lives in New York City.
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Top Customer Reviews
Though my ARC didn't have the beautiful cover art you see above, there was art on the inside, each drawing perfectly suited to the story. It's a quick read. The stories are short and grim, sometimes shocking, but never simply for the sake of being grim or shocking. They're purposeful and expertly written. I will say that it is definitely intended for an older, more mature YA audience. It wasn't exactly the kind of story I would want to share with my preteen aged neice.
Seasoned young adult author and poet Ron Koertge delivers a chilling set of retold fairy tales in Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses. The collection is brief and can easily be read in one sitting, although many readers might want to go through some of the chapters twice so as not to miss any gruesome details. In terms of enjoyment, some of the tales fare better than others. Although the book is marketed for the young adult audience, only some of Koertge's retellings will appeal to teen readers. Teens will likely enjoy tales like "Red Riding Hood, Home at Last, Tells Her Mother What Happened," "Hansel and Gretel," and "Memoirs of the Beast," all grim but witty retellings of stories that younger readers will undoubtedly be familiar with. Other chapters, such as "Godfather Death," "The Little Match Girl" and "The Robber Bridegroom" are taken from tales that aren't as well-known, and are far more grisly, making them less likely to resonate with the young adult audience. In fact, when factors like language, characterization and imagery are taken into account, this collection seems more appropriate for an adult audience. At most, it will entertain very sophisticated teen readers who will understand all the nuances in each retelling and be familiar with the original tales they are derived from.Read more ›
But even though Koertge did sort of give me what I was expecting, it somehow managed to not be quite what I wanted. The book is very brief, tackling 23 different tales in less than 100 pages, including illustrations and title pages for each story. This means each story averages about 2 pages of well-spaced text or free-verse, and this means Koertge only has the space of a few blinks of the eye to make an impression with each story - blink and it's over...
I will say, I think Koertge certainly tried to create memorable, concrete images that would linger with the reader, plunging straight into the heart of each with a wry, jaded style. There's also a really good mix of well-known and little-known tales, and Koertge changes up the narration slightly in each tale. But even the narration at its most different (like Little Red's vapid prattling) still has a sameness to it. Some readers will appreciate this and feel the sardonic tone running throughout is the thread that holds it all together. Other readers - like myself - will feel that what the book really needs is a shake-up. The stories, different as they are originally, blend one into the next in Koertge's hands, and in the end, I would have been hard-pressed to tell you what happened in which, and how - if at all - the narrators differed.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If prose poetry or novels in free verse is new, you are in good hands with “the wisest, most entertaining wise guy in American poetry” according to Poet Laureate Billy Collins, of... Read morePublished 24 months ago by heartbluestockings
I have yet to read the book, but I really enjoyed the illustrations, which are truly wonderful and fanciful. That's all folks.Published on August 17, 2013 by Paula D. Gordon
I wish I could have rated this book zero stars, because it's worth about that much. What is this? The language isn't interesting enough for it to be poetry, and the view is far too... Read morePublished on February 13, 2013 by wysewomon
I read this book out loud last night to my dinner party guests and everyone was immediately taken, and one teacher is now thinking of adopting the book. Read morePublished on January 13, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Lies Knives and Girls in Red Dresses is a collection of dark, dark modern fairy tales. They are really dark and grim, I would say. Read morePublished on October 29, 2012 by Black Plum
Dark, sometimes gory retellings of classic Fairytales. That about sums up Lies, Knives, and Girls In Red Dresses by Ron Koertge, with illustrations by Andrea Dezso. Read morePublished on July 26, 2012 by MaryAnn
Short and entertaining, lyrical and heinous. Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses retells different fairy tales from Cinderella to Red Riding Hood all jam-packed in this short... Read morePublished on July 24, 2012 by Courtney Ann