By: Laura Farina
Illustrated By: Elina Ellis
Published On: September 1, 2020
I loved the concept of this story: An older brother reading two fairy tales to his little sister changes up the story to be something less scary. She’s not fooled though and wants the stories back to something less boring. But as much as I loved the concept, the story didn’t quite work for me. Part of my issue was that I never knew what the true overall goal or moral of the story was. Are we to root for the brother and his retelling? Or are we rooting for the sister who thinks he hurt the story by taking out all the drama? Are classic fairy tales better left as they are? Along those lines, I also wasn’t sure if the focus was supposed to be on the brother, the wolf, or how he retells the story at the end when he tries to make it less boring. Yet, even that opens up further questions such as why was the brother so scared of the real story? Or why was the last retelling supposed to be so much better because that one fell a little flat for me as well? The illustrations were nice, but there were some confusing layouts that made the flow of the story more difficult to follow than it should have been.
Rating: 2.5 stars
A boy’s little sister doesn’t like the way he improvises when he tells tales, in this funny and bighearted tale about what makes a story good.
The stories Gabe ?reads? to his little sister start out sounding familiar — a red-caped girl on her way to Grandma’s house meets a wolf in the woods — but then, just in the nick of time, Sir Gabriel swoops in to save the day. His sister points out that’s not how the story is supposed to go. The boy says his way is better: “Nothing bad happens in my story.” But when his sister stops listening, the boy realizes he needs to reconsider. Are his stories boring? Why does it seem like there’s always something missing?
Laura Farina’s funny and empathetic tale explores why a good story is never made up of only good things. Many young children want a story to be exciting, but they don’t want anything scary or bad to happen. This picture book shows how a brief period of being afraid or sad is necessary to make a story worth hearing. It makes for a great discussion starter and works well for loads of language arts applications, including writing skills, elements of a story, and fairy tales or other literary genres. With its playful humor, endearing sibling relationship and high-energy illustrations by Elina Ellis, this book also makes an entertaining read-aloud.