Thursday, June 3, 2021

Worlds of fairy tales


Book Review

Title: Beyond Fairy Tales

Authors: Deepika and Shalini

Format: PDF E-book

Fairies inhabit a world different from ours. In that world, they hold mirrors to us wherein we may see the images of our inner selves. Or sometimes we see the images we wish to see, as the authors say in this book:

The women of the globe secretly call,

To the mirror on their wall.


They see in themselves the beauty of Snow,

To uplift their spirit that might be lying low,

Not bothering about opinions of a friend or a foe,

They help their unique grace and enchantment grow.

Fairy tales were created at different times for different purposes. They entertain little children while teaching them certain lessons of life. They engage children creatively. Yet many of them don’t seem to be meant for children at all. This book presents us 26 fairy tales taken from various sources. The presentation is unique and that is what makes this a special book. We are given minute details about each story, its history and other background, various versions and adaptations, and related trivia as well. Moreover, there is a poem about each story too. The book can fascinate all types of readers – children and adults, beginners and scholars.

The authors interpret each story making its meaning and message clear to the reader and sometimes warning the reader about cruelty or other evils that may not be quite apt for children. Occasionally we come across subtle comments from the authors about adult issues like patriarchy too. Sample this:

OK! Now, anyone who rubbed the lamp would be the master, but not the mother of course. She is a woman. How could a genie take orders from a woman? That can’t happen so Aladdin is the master. What happens to Aladdin’s character after this? Does he realise his responsibility? No. He becomes lazier, never lifting a finger to work, but ordering the genie to do his work, from getting food to clothes everything. Talk about teaching work ethics to children. So, the story has gender bias and Aladdin is not proving to be an idol either. [Aladdin and the Magic Lamp]

In many places, the authors blow a whistle about serious moral issues involved. For instance, Aladdin’s story (cited above) ends with this paragraph:

We really need to stop here. Why are we telling this tale to our kids again? Does this story contribute in any way towards teaching them a single value that they can use in their life? This tale needs to be rewritten if at all we want to read it to our children. Include magic by all means, but improve Aladdin’s character, who remains consistently lazy, conniving and careless.

Let us take one more example. Presenting the Master Cat or Puss in Boots, the authors worry: “Yet, the cat achieves everything by cheating, lying and threatening people. Means justify the end, don’t they? But here it says, as long as you become rich and overturn your fortune, any means are justified. Basically, the Beyond Fairy Tales kids will learn that you can get away with lying if you are not caught and if lying is giving you good results, why not?”

This is not a book of fairy tales. It is an ocean of information about 26 fairy tales. Anyone who has some kind of interest in fairy tales, both children and adults, will find reading this book very rewarding. The poem added to each tale is a bonus.

PS. This book is free now here.

This book is part of The Blogchatter’s E-book carnival and my contribution to it is  LIFE: 24 Essays.


  1. Thank you for your lovely words. Glad you liked it.

  2. Hari OM
    Now that is an interesting take - and valid too! Thanks for bringing this one to attention, as I had not spotted it. YAM xx

    1. I was amused by these chapters during the a2z period.

  3. Sounds interesting. Thank you.

  4. An insightful review of a book (most of which I had read during the challenge) that can be enjoyed at various levels. As aptly observed by you, "The book can fascinate all types of readers – children and adults, beginners and scholars"

    1. I too had read much of it in the a2z days and was fascinated.

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