Fifteen fairy tales. Some might seem familiar. Others
you've never heard before.
Here Red Riding Hood's name is Polly and she visits her
grandmother by bus and rain . . .
Here the youngest prince is really a princess, who sets out to
rescue a prince from a wizard but marries the wizard instead . . .
Here a king who hates cats finds that his daughter has turned into
a cat until he allows her to marry her true love . . .
In The Outspoken Princess and the Gentle Knight Jack Zipes
has assembled a collection of unusual fairy tales. While all the
stories are reprints, there's probably something new for even the
well-read fantasy lover.
The authors represented range from regulars in the fantasy field
-- Tanith Lee and the ubiquitous Jane Yolen -- to writers not usually
associated with fantasy -- Ernest Hemingway; Ukrainian-born Dov Mir,
a relative newcomer to American audiences; and Richard Shickel,
better known as a film critic.
The stories themselves include retellings of familiar fairy tales,
twists on familiar themes, and freshly original plots. You think
"Princess Dahli" is Cinderella in disguise? Maybe. Maybe not.
Zipes particularly emphasizes that the anthology is "for children
of all ages." He has chosen carefully, generally from sources aimed
at younger audiences, stories that older readers will enjoy as well.
He succeeds marvelously.
The sophistication of these tales ranges from the sublime (a
princess whose beauty blinds everyone, including herself, until a
fool learns to love her) to the ridiculous (another princess who
likes to drive forklifts marries a prince who flies helicopters?!).
The introduction, on the other hand, is thoroughly adult, perhaps
too academic or analytical for even most grown-ups. If so, skip it.
Jump into the stories themselves. They're waiting.
This review originally appeared in the February 12, 1995 edition
of The Roanoke Times and World-News.