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donnaodonnellfigurski.com - READ IT! READERS: FAIRY TALES
Picture Window Books
ISBN: 1-4048-0240-1W
12 Book Set $167.40
(Single Titles $13.95)
Ages 4 to 9

Do you ever want to believe something; I mean really, truly want to believe, even though you know it can’t possibly be true? Maybe you just want to believe because everyone else does. Or have you ever decided that you didn’t like someone because of how they look? These story concepts are as old as time, and there are many lessons to be learned from them.

You may have recognized the themes above as the, THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES and THE UGLY DUCKLING. These classic titles, and more, are published by Picture Window Books in their fairytale series. Teachers will love these books because they are specially designed for early readers. The varying degrees of difficulty, allows children to choose books that are just right for them.

Since many of the stories such as, THE THREE BILLY GOAT’S GRUFF, THE THREE LITTLE PIGS, and THE THREE BEARS are familiar to children, they are easier to read because children can predict what is coming next in the story. For example, when the wolf threatens to blow down the pig’s house, most children quickly repeat the wolf’s refrain, “I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in.” These predictable parts of the story make it easy for children to decode the text. Teachers love this early reading success; so do parents. And of course, the children revel in the fact that they are readers. These books are very “kiddle” friendly from their texts to their perky illustrations.

Although the books can be sold in the complete package from the publisher at picturewindowbooks.com, single titles can also be purchased at competitive prices from your local bookstore. This collection of much loved stories would be a wonderful addition to any classroom library, or for that matter any child’s favorite bookshelf.

This review can also be seen on: SmartWriters
FROM the MOUTHS of KIDDLE CRITers: a critique group


“I could tell that they were tricking the emperor,” said Hannah.

“Well, I think that the emperor only cared about clothes,” said Lucy.

“He’s the emperor,” said Zach, “He’s supposed to care about the people.”

“Lucy sighed. “Well, he cared about clothes more than he cared about people.”

“At the end the emperor’s going to say, ‘Look at all this fine clothing these people are making. Isn’t this fabulous?’ Then the people aren’t going to see anything,” said Zach.

“If I were the emperor,’ said Miguel, “I would feel like a fool.”

“The moral of the story is if you don’t think it,” said Pritka, “Don’t fake it!”

“ . . . and don’t give your money away, unless you see what you are getting,” said Juan with a laugh.


“The man said, ‘Give me the cow and I can give you the magic beans,’ said Miguel.

“There are no such things as magic beans,” said Juan, “And whoever heard of golden eggs?

“Juan, it’s an adventurous book,” said Pritka, “It gives strength to a child for being adventurous. I would recommend this book because it takes you to a new world. It’s like you are really in the story.


“I would be very sad if I were the ugly duckling,” said Hannah. “His brothers and sisters kicked him out. That was a mean thing.”

“The ugly duckling was sad,” said Meg, “They were making fun of him.”

“But, the Ugly Duckling was really brave, too. He used a lot of courage . . . walking around the world when he was just a baby,” said Miguel.

“Yeah, I agree with Miguel. He was very courageous!” said Juan, “But I wouldn’t walk around the world just to try to fit in.”

Felino said. “I want to recommend this book. You can learn that you don’t have to be ugly or handsome or pretty . . . just be yourself.”

Miguel nodded.

“AND,” continued Felino, “I liked the part where the duckling turned into the swan.”

“Yeah,” said Miguel, “Then he was the beautiful one. He felt proud of himself.”


“This book reminds me of The Three Little Pigs because they showed brother ‘supportedness,’” said Pritka. “The three pigs had three brothers and this story has three brothers . . . and they were supporting each other.”

“Yeah!” said Miguel. “The little-sized or the middle-sized goat couldn’t beat the troll. Only the biggest-sized could do it.”

“So he stood up to the troll and he tricked him,” said Keisha.

“The moral of the story is don’t give up – never give up. Encourage . . . and do your best,” said Pritka.


“The prince shouldn’t have gone all around the world just to find a princess,” said Keisha. “If I were the prince, I would look in other castles, but not in ALL the castles in the world. That’s crazy! Actually, it is a very good book . . .kind of crazy, but it is good. It teaches lessons. It teaches you to never go around the world to find a princess.”


“I think the book was really great because it was like an adventure,” said Miguel.

“Little Red Ridinghood went to her grandmother’s house,” said Keisha.

“Then she saw a wolf,” said Miguel, “And she talked to the wolf.”

“ I think the wolf was after her,” said Keisha.

Yeah!” said Meg, “She was scared that the wolf was going to eat her.”

“Then Little Red Ridinghood thought the wolf ate her grandmother,” said Juan.

“I would recommend this book because it tells you a lesson,” said Miguel. “NEVER TALK TO STRANGERS.”


“The frog said, ‘Come with me. You’ll be a good wife for my son,’ But Thumbelina didn’t want to be the frog’s son’s wife. She was a human being . . . and the son was not a person,” said Lucy.

“Thumbelina must have felt sad,” said Juan.

“Thumbelina was suffering very much,” said Pritka. “If I were Thumbelina, I would be brave and stand up for myself and say, ‘I would not like to marry you.’”

“I would recommend this book because I learned that sometimes people might ask you to do something that you do not want to do, and because Thumbelina was saying ‘NO’ to things that she didn’t want,” said Meg.


The illustrations really stand out,” said Keisha. “In my brain, I picture that they are really real, even though they are fairytales.”


Way-Way Off -- BROADWAY!

You may as well get some mileage from these famous fairy tales. Children love to act in plays. They love to dress up in costumes and strut on stage . . . well most of them do. Fairy tales are easy to perform. Because the stories are familiar to children and because many of the stories are repetitive, they easily lend themselves to playacting. After reading the story to the children, let them reenact it using their own dialogue. They’ll be “huffing and puffing” all over the place. I hope they don’t blow your classroom in!

Did SO! Did NOT!

Now we all know that for every story there is a converse version. Listen to this dialogue.

“Mommmmmy! Harry hit me,” said Marge.

“Did NOT!” said Harry.

“DID SO!” said Marge.

Sound familiar?

Think now about fairy tales. Who do you believe . . . the Wolf or the Three Little Pigs? The wolf said he just wanted to borrow a cup of sugar for his dear old granny, and we all know how the pigs interpreted his visit. Then there was the troll who was just being friendly, as his mother had taught him. With stew bubbling on the stove and warm cornbread in the oven, the troll wanted company for dinner. Who wouldn’t? I wonder why the billy goats misunderstood so badly? All the troll said was, “I’d like to have you for dinner.”

Children will have a blast deciding who was right, and I can guarantee you will NEVER get everyone to agree on which character was telling the truth. But isn’t that the marvel of the mind?


Read several versions of a fairy tale (see alternative versions listed below) and compare and contrast the various details in the stories.

Children then can write their own versions of the story. Use Frank Schaffer FAIRY TALE SEQUENCING Workbook # 675. Children put six fairy tale pictures in sequential order and paste them into a construction paper book. Then, depending on their age and ability, they can either write their own sentence about the picture or dictate a sentence to the teacher. At the end they will have their “own” version of the fairy tale.

The greatest part of this activity is that, because they are the writers of the text, they can easily read their stories. And they love to. They love sharing them with their classmates, and the room will be abuzz with Cinderella and Jack and Bears and Pigs and Thumbelina and a whole lot more. So this is not only a writing activity, but also a reading one.


After reading the converse version of a fairy tale, (see alternative versions listed below) students can compare the stories. For even more fun, have students set up a mock trial situation.

Assign students a character from a story and have them persuade a jury of their innocence.
For example, the three pigs could be on trial for cooking the wolf or the wolf could be on trial for harassing the pigs. Each character on trial must convince the judge and the jury of their innocence. What a great way to teach persuasive speech!


Bears Should Share! Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Alvin Granowsky, illustrated by Anne Lunsford and Lyn Martin

Cinderella/That Awful Cinderella by Alvin Granowsky, illustrated by Rhonda Childress

Giants Have Feelings, Too; Jack and the Beanstalk by Alvin Granowsky, illustrated by Linda Graves and Henry Buerchkholtz

The Three Billy Goats Gruff/Just a Friendly Old Troll retold by Alvin Granowsky, illustrated by Michele Nidenoff and Thomas Newbury

Red Riding Hood by Brothers Grimm, Wilhelm Carl Grimm, Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm, illustrated by James Carl Marshall

Goldilocks and the Three Bears retold by James Marshall

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Helen Oxenbury

The Frog Prince--Continued by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith

(Although I examined these websites and found them to be very helpful, please use them at your own discretion.)


SurLaLune fairy tale pages

Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales and Stories

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All contents copyright (c) 2002. Donna O'Donnell Figurski.
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