When I read this collection, my mind spun with ways that it could be used in a classroom or a library. I’ve shared my list of ideas below for using Fairy Tale Comics. Feel free to share your ideas in the comments. I’d love to know how people are using this amazing collection in the wild.
It was perfect timing when I received a copy of Fairy Tale Comics from Netgalley as I was preparing my unit about drama. I taught Oral Interpretation of Literature class this past spring at the college and sought out moments to use comics to teach visual storytelling. These comics were perfect for teaching about reader’s theater, which included setting, characterization, tone, pitch, and more. I gave my students scripts that I created from the text of the comics. I used "Sweet Porridge!" by Bobby London, "Rumpelstiltskin" by Brett Helquist, "Rapunzel" by Raina Telgemeier, "The 12 Dancing Princesses" by Emily Carroll. I gave my students 15-20 minutes to prepare their story with some basic props, but how they preformed it was up to them. I then projected the stories on a screen beside the performers. I could see how the visual medium affected their dramatic interpretation – and the audience’s interaction with it. Drama itself is very visual so this seemed like a perfect pairing. Using these stories added dimension to their performances and engaged my students in new ways. Graphic novelists often use reader’s theater to share their work, so it’s wonderful when we can use it to celebrate them.
Get your Aarne-Thompson on!
Until I took a storytelling class at GSLIS with the beyond fabulous Kate McDowell, I had no idea what the Aarne-Thompson classification system was and now it illuminates every fairy tale reading experience. In short, it is an index that organizes folktales according to plot points and motifs. Actually, it’s now called the Aarne-Thompson-Uther classification system so it can continue to expand. The bottom line is that there are different types of tales – from Persecuted Heroine (type 501) to Animals in Exile (type 130) with many variations from around the world. Yes, this is an opportunity for a “Cinderella project” kind of unit, but you can ditch Ella for one of the tales in Fairy Tale Comics. Your students can research variations on the tale and have a chance to return to the world of fairy tale picture books, where some of the best retellings are found. They can compare them with the Fairy Tale Comics version and critically think about the ways stories are told and retold.
Retelling: Twisted, Fractured, or Swapped
Let your students or patrons retell a fairy tale. Switching perspectives (like in The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith) or changing the gender of a character (like Gigi D. G. did in "Little Red Riding Hood," replacing the male lumberjack for the female one) can help writers think about stories in new ways. Pair this activity with a lesson on the fundamentals of comics creation and design (gutter, panels, bubbles, etc.). They can storyboard the fairy tale and retell it using an app like Comic Life, comic creator from ReadWriteThink, or ToonDoo. (Excellent resources for teaching how to create comics include the classic Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud and 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style by Matt Madden, thanks to Carol Tilley's excellent comics class.) Make sure it’s clear that anyone can create comics and use his or her own style to tell a story. Many of these fairy tales are based on Grimm tales, which were already interpretations of tales from the oral tradition so we’re already in the habit of shifting and changing stories. Bring in stories by Hans Christian Anderson, Andrew Lang, and other more obscure authors and let your students try retelling them.
Chris Duffy reported that the next comics collection is going to be Fable Comics. I can't wait to see how the artists take on Aesop, Kipling, or other authors, but in the meantime, this is a great opportunity for your students or patrons to try their hand at their own fable comics.
This collection is a natural fit for pairing with the multitudes of fantastic fairy tale picture books found in the 398.2 section of your local public library. This collection is perfect for young people and adults alike, each getting something different out of it. So here are some my favorite fairy tale readalikes for both groups.
For young people
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Sciezka, illustrated by Lane Smith
The Stinky Cheese Man & Other Fairly Stupid Tales Jon Sciezka, illustrated by Lane Smith
The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, illustrated by Michael Martchenko
Little Lit: Once Upon a Time, Little Lit: Strange Stories for Strange Kids, and Little Lit: It Was a Dark and Silly Night from Toon Books
Nursery Rhyme Comics
For older young people
A Tale Dark and Grimm Series by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hugh D’Andrade
The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making Series by Catherynne M. ValenteRapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale
For young adults and grownups
Fables by Bill Willingham
Ash by Malinda Lo
The Rose and the Beast by Francesca Lia Block
Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah
Birdwing by Rafe Martin
Beastly by Alex Flinn
A Curse Dark as Gold by Elizabeth C. Bunce
East by Edith Pattou
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
Princess at the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George
Once Upon a Time television series
Second City’s Advice from a Cartoon Princess Series (for grownups)
Twice Upon a Time: A Guide to Fractured, Altered, and Retold Folk and Fairy Tales by
Catharine R. Bomhold and Terri E. Elder
Catharine R. Bomhold and Terri E. Elder
Enchanted Hunters: The Power of Stories in Childhood by Maria Tatar
Fairy Tale Review
Journal of Fairy Tale Studies
Dave Roman's Reader's Theater Tips
FAIRY TALE COMICS BLOG TOUR
An incredible blog tour is going on now for Fairy Tale Comics until October 1. Check out the list below to follow along and discover more about this amazing book and the artists who contributed to it. (As the days pass, I'll do my best to update the links so they go directly to the posts by these very lucky bloggers.)
Friday 9/13 featuring Bobby London Charlotte’s Library
Saturday 9/14 featuring editor Chris Duffy SLJ Good Comics for Kids
Sunday 9/15 featuring Graham Annable Stumptown Trade Review
Monday 9/16 featuring Gigi D.G. Literary Grand Rapids
Tuesday 9/17 featuring Karl Kerschl Fleen
Wednesday 9/18 featuring Luke Pearson Raincoast
Thursday 9/19 featuring Joseph Lambert Schulz Library Blog
Friday 9/20 featuring David Mazzucchelli Comics Bulletin
Saturday 9/21 featuring Vanessa Davis Supernatural Snark
Sunday 9/22 featuring Gilbert Hernandez Things to Do in LA
Monday 9/23 featuring Raina Telgemeier Stacked
Tuesday 9/24 Featuring Ramona Fradon CBR
Wednesday 9/25 featuring Luke Pearson Casual Optimist
Thursday 9/26 featuring Emily Carroll Comics Alliance
Friday 9/27 featuring Charise Mericle Harper SLJ Good Comics for Kids
Saturday 9/28 featuring Jillian Tamaki Geek Mom
Sunday 9/29 featuring Jaime Hernandez MTVGeek
Monday 9/30 featuring Craig Thompson LA Times Hero Complex
Tuesday 10/1 featuring Gigi D.G. Sare-endipity