Google+ Bookslingers Blog: The Worn-Out Fairy Tale

The Worn-Out Fairy Tale

First, a little mood music (video):

Are we sitting mysteriously? Good. Let us begin.

I am issuing an immediate moratorium on the Twelve Dancing Princesses.

And no sneaking it in under other titles such as "The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes" or "The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces" or "The Princesses Who Needed to Find Themselves a New Cobbler."

Do not Google Image search this book title to find a picture for your blog. I've seen things. Things I cannot unsee. But it did remind me to wipe my browser history.

The Twelve Dancing Princesses (Or "The Shoe Fetishist's Nightmare") is a tricky fairy tale to rewrite because of the fundamental problem at the story's core.
The problem is not Jason Chan's cover. If he decided to illustrate the History of Terrible People Doing Terrible Things in Graphic Detail, I would read it.
Lady Quiz Time:

If a mysterious portal opens up in your bedroom in the middle of the night leading down to a creepy and yet symbolic underworld that looks like some Dior minimalist Christmas where twigs are made of gold, silver and there is a host of coin-operated  princes who boogie all night long, what do you an your eleven sisters do?

You can thank Moffat for making this fairy tale just a little more frightening

a) Propping the portal open with a door to make sure it doesn't close suddenly and trap your in the sinister underworld, take a peek into the mysterious wonderland to make sure you haven't stumbled into an episode of Doctor Who and/or survey the area for Mr. Tumnus (and we are talking only James MacAvoy's Mr. Tumnus)
Accept no substitutes
B) Leaving one sister to hold the door, pop down with a wheelbarrow and some servants and haul back as many gold, silver and diamond branches as you can snap off. There are twelve of you. You could clean up enough to install a proper security system and team of exorcists in the next castle you buy.

C) Wander past the priceless fancy trees, take a boat to a castle that is built entirely around a lake that is somehow underneath your own castle and then dance the night away with princes who, so far as I can tell, are robots. Dance so hard that your shoes are in tatters and then walk home past the fancy trees into your beds. Don't tell anyone about this but instead play a risky game of "discover my secret nighttime activities" with a grizzled old dude who you will be forced to marry because you are in a fairy tale.

D) Move. Pack up your things and move.
This is not a difficult quiz
Each of these authors tries to make the less-obvious choice of C seem a little less crazy. Some succeed (The Thirteenth Princess they are under a spell, The Princess Curse they have kind of put their immortal souls in danger due to having not read enough fairy tales) and some don't (In Entwined they are angry at their dad: I know what will show him! Making him pay out more money for shoes!).

None of these really thwacked it out of the park for me. I will give The Princess Curse a slight edge as it veered off somewhere unexpected and new halfway through the book (Did anyone else think that Entwined would have been a stronger middle school book? For a 480 page book, it didn't have enough complexity to be YA).  

Let's put the dancing princesses to rest. They've had a long night.