Books Fractured Fairytales Picture Book Challenge 2011 Picture Books Reading Themes

Kveta Pacovska’s Artsy Twist to Charles Perrault’s Cinderella

One thing that I realized as we are doing this fractured fairy tale theme is that one can actually categorize the ways through which tales may be called ‘fractured’ or ‘turned over on its head’ so to speak. As we are nearing the end of August, allow me to just share a few thoughts on the matter.

One variation of a well-loved tale would be a twist in the story line – some ‘true story’ behind the actual tale (e.g. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs) – making one realize that nothing is simply what they seem. Another example that comes to my mind would be Gregory Maguire’s Wicked – which we won’t be reviewing here, although Fats and I have read it – go watch the play though, it’s beautiful).

Another would be a presentation of changes in perspectives like Once Upon a Fairy Tale where we have a chance to hear the Princess’ Pillow share her version of what the events are, we get to hear the Loom’s Voice in Rumpelstiltskin, and listen to what Red Riding Hood’s mother has to say.

In yet another category, we see an assortment, a hodge podge of different fairy characters come together to weave together a new plot entirely based on elements from each other’s original narratives. An example that comes to mind right now would be Alma Flor Ada’s “Yours Truly, Goldilocks” where Red Riding Hood meets The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and The Three Bears, and not-one-but-two wolves! Lauren Child’s Beware of Storybook Wolves also has this element present. And of course, we all know about Shrek and the clever way in which happily-never-afters are presented.

We also have fractured fairy tales in which the original elements of the story are retained but transplanted in a different setting/context altogether – it could be as grisly and gruesome as the Cinderella Skeleton or it could also have a multi-racial angle not unlike Rachel Isadora’s Rapunzel or Twelve Dancing Princesses (which we also hope to review here).

Now for this book that I shall be reviewing today – the narrative remains the same – no twists in the storyline whatsoever.

There is a prince in search of a wife, a wicked step mother, a fairy godmother, and a long-suffering heroine who lost her shoe. Essentially, the text remains faithful to the original, but the presentation has given it a freshly-creative face with a dash of the experimental and edgy vibe to it. Quite similar to Steven Guarnaccia’s hip version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears with their designer furniture.

Given such a long commentary, I shall not bore you now with details from the book but rather present a few book photographs that demonstrate the amazing way that Kveta Pacovska has given a refreshing avant-garde twist to the usual boring-lacy-edged, ultra-princessy feel of Cinderelly.

The usual case of: If the Shoe Fits then you must be the stepsister who hacked her foot to bits and pieces to make the shoe fit
Happily Ever After!

About the Artist Kveta Pacovska (as taken from the jacketflap of the book)

Kveta Pacovska was born in Prague in 1928. She studied painting and illustration at the Prague College of Fine Arts, and it was there that she first encountered avant-garde European art. Throughout her career she has drawn inspiration from its famous figures and their aesthetic preferences: influences on her artistic career and her personal development have been Paul Klee, Vassily Kandinsky, and Joan Miro, as well as the Bauhaus artists. Her work shows great diversity. In the last 40 years she has published over 75 books, and at least 100 national and international exhibitions have been devoted to her works of art. They range from painting, graphic art, and collage, to objects made of paper, not only as items expressing all her creativity but also in the form of books that are also games, in which she has harnessed the technical constraints of paper-folding, flaps over passages of text, or cut-outs to her own imagination. In this way she experiments with a new link between text and image.

Click on the image to be taken to the websource.

In 1992 she received the Hans Christian Andersen Prize, the highest international distinction in literature for young people, for her lifetime achievement in art, and in 1993 she received the Lettre d’Argent, one of the highest awards for book illustration.

PictureBook Challenge Update: 99 of 120

Cinderella by Charles Perrault and Illustrated by Kveta Pacovska. Minedition published by Michael Neugebauer Publishing Ltd, 2010. Book borrowed from the Community Library.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

7 comments on “Kveta Pacovska’s Artsy Twist to Charles Perrault’s Cinderella

  1. I loved the musical Wicked. When I went to it, I didn’t know anything about it and I thought it would be boring. It blew me away. I loved it!


    • I watched it at the Orpheum Theatre while we were in San Francisco and I know exactly what you mean about being blown away. My then eight year old daughter could not stop talking about it even after a year – it is indeed a class of its own.

      We also watched Shrek last year at the Orpheum – while I enjoyed ‘let your freak flag fly free’ – it paled in comparison to Wicked. I did not enjoy Maguire’s book though as much as I thought I would. 😉


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