CM . . .
. Volume XVII Number 13. . . .November 26, 2010
It’s Not About the Apple! (Easy-to-Read Wonder Tales).
Veronika Martenova Charles. Illustrated by David Parkins.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, 2010.
64 pp., pbk., $7.99.
Children’s stories -Canadian (English).
Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.
Review by Carrie Subtelny.
I really loved this book! It captures the story of Snow White from four different cultural perspectives, and each one pulled me away from the Walt Disney version in a delightful way. To be honest, I’m not a true fan of the Disney version of Snow White. Out of all of Disney’s fairy tales, Snow White was my least favourite. The animated version did little to alter my judgement. In fact, the cartoon may have solidified my opinion. So to read this text and experience Snow White from different cultural perspectives was completely refreshing.
The text structure, itself, introduces the stories in an authentic way which invites the reader even more into the various tales. This is a chapter book, written at an accessible level for learners (grade 1-3; or high interest/easy read for readers who need accessible print). The characters look ‘cool’ and represent different ethnic backgrounds.
The black and white pictures throughout authentically support each take on Snow White and are depicted in a non-Disney way; thus appropriate for an older learner. The subtle (or perhaps not so subtle) themes of inclusion, acceptance and tolerance are evident. We all have different stories, and these characters show us how to listen respectfully and share.
It’s Not About the Apple! begins with three students who discover a lunch box while walking across their school yard. One student discovers an apple inside and wants to have a bite. Another student warns him of its being potentially poisoned, like the apple in Snow White. The third student pipes up, insisting that this isn’t how the story goes! In fact, he states that Snow White doesn’t get seduced by an apple but by a poisoned ring, and then this is where the book takes off: “That’s not how the story goes,” said Ben. “It was a poisoned ring, not a poisoned apple. And Snow White wasn’t dead. She was only sleeping. I’ll tell you the story.”
Snow White from Greece is titled “Three Sisters,” and the story begins, "Once, there were three sisters who were orphans. One morning they went out to watch the sunrise. ‘Sun, who is the best of us all?’ the eldest sister asked. And the sun replied, "One is as good as the other, but the youngest is best of all.’ You can imagine how the two elder sisters felt! They used their envy to create a plan to get rid of their sister.”
Chapter three is called “The Stone of Patience” and is the Snow White story from Armenia. It tells about a rich man and his daughter, Anel, and his beautiful new wife. Near the beginning of the story, you read, "Each month when there was a new moon, the wife asked, ‘Moon, am I the most beautiful?’ And the moon replied, ‘You are the most beautiful.’ But when Anel was ten years old, the new moon told the wife,’It is Anel, your step-daughter, who is the most beautiful of all.’ Instead of being pleased, the wife was very jealous." The story continues with the wife creating wicked plans to get rid of her stepdaughter.
Chapter four is called “Bianca and the Six Robbers,” the Snow White story from Italy.
This final rendition introduces a traveller who speaks the truth regarding a daughter’s being lovelier than her mother. Once again the rage of envy takes hold, and this mother crafts a plan to get rid of her daughter.
The theme of this classic fairy tale remains the same, but the uniqueness presented from each culture adds great flavour to the original. The book concludes in the fifth chapter with the students returning the lunch box to the office and deciding to explore another version of Snow White together. I won’t tell you which one! To find out, you’ll have to find it in It’s Not About the Apple!, part of the “Easy-to-Read Wonder Tales” series.
Carrie Subtelny is a mother, teacher and a reading clinician in Winnipeg, MB.
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