- Grumbles from the Forest: Fairy-Tale Voices with a Twist by Jane Yolen
Thirty poems, two for each of fifteen well-known folktales, treat the perennially popular topic of the events of the fairy-tale world. Most of the poems are from the viewpoint of participants in the stories, and the best are vividly immediate: the sad [End Page 443] parents of the runaway gingerbread boy in "From the Kitchen," the giant's wife in "The Giant Confides in Jack" ("Husband's pockets are always full/ of freckles and toes"). Folktale poetry is a pretty crowded field these days, though, and many of the entries are merely recapitulations in verse, lacking the twist promised in the title. The art has some lively moments—the human-sized frog frantically bolting from the princess, the gingerbread boy being lowered toward a humongous and hungry mouth—but too often the thickly painted scenes bury their interesting details in dark backgrounds and compositions that are murky and indistinct, lacking sufficient contrast to draw focus to the best parts. Singer's Mirror, Mirror (BCCB 4/10) is a fresher folktale poetry outing, but there are still curricular opportunities here, and readers (and readers aloud) can home in on the most rewarding entries. A table of contents lists the poems by tale and title; an appended spread gives a précis of the source stories.