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Girls

Authored by Annet Schaap, translated Laura Watkinson
Illustrated by Annet Schaap
Published by Pushkin Children's Books

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In this selection of rewritten fairy stories, girls stand up for themselves, solve their own problems and marry the frog not the prince. Schaap has taken the most famous fairy tales from her childhood and rewritten them from a female centred position to explore autonomy, self-worth and a girl’s ability to solve her own problems.

In these stories the frogs stay frogs, the fathers stay away and the girls battle through and solve their own problems. A little on the stark side, each story is recognisable from its original but deviates in order for newer, more modern messages to be made clear. My favourite is when the wolf speaks back, fighting its natural urges to eat the girl in the red jacket. In ‘Wolf’ there is also a lovely uncovering of the helicopter parent, watching and surveilling their daughters so that all risks are minimised and managed. My favourite ‘princess’ is in ‘Frog’ as her inner monologue is so dry and witty. A funny story with a clear strong message – there is no prince.

Girls could be a useful resource for KS3 in a fairytale or mythological unit. A nice stepping stone to reading Angela Carter in A Level. It has beautiful illustrations from Schaap that reinforce the darkness of some of the original stories but also play with the trivialities of the modern day.

Drily funny, each of the stories turns the tale on its head to show that life is not a fairytale but rather we should ‘make [our] bed, pack [our] bag, and go’. Standing up for ourselves is the only way to live a life.