How to Fracture a Fairy Tale

Jane Yolen

Fantasy legend Jane Yolen (The Devil’s Arithmetic, The Emerald Circus) delights in fracturing fairy tales to reveal their crystalline interiors. Including original story notes and poems, here is a must-have collection for anyone who wishes to renew their delight in the classics.

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How to Fracture a Fairy Tale

by Jane Yolen

ISBN: Print: 978-1-61696-306-4 Digital: 978-1-61696-305-7

Published: November 2018

Available Format(s): Trade Paperback and Digital

Description

“[Yolen is] the Aesop of the twentieth century”
The New York Times

Fantasy legend Jane Yolen (The Emerald Circus, The Devil’s Arithmetic) delights with these effortlessly wide-ranging transformed fairy tales. Yolen fractures the classics to reveal their crystalline secrets, holding them to the light and presenting them entirely transformed, from a spinner of straw as a money-changer and to the big bad wolf retiring to a nursing home. Rediscover the fables you once knew, rewritten and refined for the world we now live in.

Biography

Jane Yolen has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the twentieth century. She is the author of over three hundred and sixty five books, including children’s fiction, poetry, short stories, graphic novels, nonfiction, fantasy, and science fiction. Her publications include Owl MoonThe Devil’s ArithmeticBriar RoseSister Emily’s Starship and Sister Light, Sister Dark. Among her many honors are the Caldecott and Christopher Medals, multiple Nebula, World Fantasy, Mythopoeic, Golden Kite, and Jewish Book awards; as well as the World Fantasy Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Science Fiction Poetry Grand Master Award. Yolen is also a teacher of writing and a book reviewer. She lives in Western Massachusetts and St. Andrew, Scotland.

Praise for Jane Yolen

“The Hans Christian Andersen of America”
Newsweek

“The Aesop of the twentieth century”
The New York Times

“Jane Yolen is a gem in the diadem of science fiction and fantasy.”
Analog

Praise for The Emerald Circus

Publishers Weekly’s Big Indie Books of Fall 2017
School Library Journal All-Star pick, Adult Books for Teens
Foreword Reviewer’s Choice—Favorite Books of 2017

“An impressive overview of the author’s breadth and career, this collection will appeal to the author’s existing devotees—or to anyone who has ever thought that “happily ever after” left too many questions.”
Kirkus

[STARRED REVIEW] “Beauty sneaks out to get a Christmas gift for the Beast, the first of several wrong decisions in ‘The Gift of the Magicians, with Apologies to You Know Who.’ In ‘Blown Away,’ Dorothy’s twister takes her away, not to a magical land but [T]he Emerald Circus, and she returns home as a gymnastic performer who changes many lives. Wendy leads a labor strike against the Lost Boys in ‘Lost Girls.’ After more than a decade, Yolen (Briar RoseSister Emily’s Starship and Other Stories) returns with 16 stories that take readers sideways and upside down through beloved fairy tales and classic tales such as Peter Panand The Wizard of Oz, while also reimagining the lives of famous storytellers such as Hans Christian Anderson, Edgar Allan Poe and ­Emily Dickinson. VERDICT: These delightful retellings of favorite stories will captivate newcomers and fans of Yolen as she once again delivers the magic, humor, and lovely prose that has attracted readers for years.”
Library Journal

[STARRED REVIEW] “Though only one of the 16 stories in Yolen’s latest story collection is newly published, the selections are anything but haphazard. The central vision of the compilation is the reimagining of folktales, legends, literature, and history. More than that, the volume feels unified by themes and imagery. The most obvious connections are three retellings of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and three takes on the quasi-historical basis of the King Arthur myths. But even these seemingly discrete blocks of stories feed into the rest of the volume. One of the Arthur tales, for example, features the story of Merlin being told to Geoffrey of Monmouth, the real author of some of the earliest Arthurian legends. Yolen takes up this thread of focusing on the creative process again and again as she weaves stories of the magic behind Hans Christian Andersen, Edgar Allan Poe, and Emily Dickinson. And of course, every entry contains Yolen’s crystalline prose, which captures the magic in reality, and vice versa, with ease and grace. Each tale is accompanied by a brief note from Yolen and a related poem, almost all written newly for this work. VERDICT: These highly entertaining retellings are perfect for teens fans of fairy tales and classic literature, though they are easily enjoyed without any background knowledge.”
School Library Journal, starred review

“Jane Yolen’s Emerald Circus may be my favorite book of the year, period, with apologies to Jeff Vandermeer’s Borne. Many years ago, when I had my own blog, I wrote a post celebrating the versatility of Yolen—one of the few authors who can write top-shelf books at any age level. Emerald Circus is a perfect example of her fluid but rock-solid prose.”
—Mark Flowers, School Library Journal

“Ever the wordsmith, Yolen dazzles with her first short story collection for adults in years.”
Booklist

“Marvellous and entertaining.”
Risingshadow

“This excellent collection reimagines folktales, fairy tales, and sometimes historical people in new and surprising light.  It is a brilliant example of short-form storytelling by one of the treasures of the science fiction community.”
—Brandon Sanderson, author of Mistborn

“Jane Yolen’s The Emerald Circus is full of marvels.  She introduces familiar acts and actors into her rings and then tricks us into seeing them from complex, unexpected angles.  She turns toads into witches, Sir Lancelot into a 600-year-old monk, Dorothy into a tightrope walker, and Emily Dickinson into a spacefarer.  The stories themselves change between one reading and another, always revealing more, always at a different slant than before, in language that is rich, unholy, and, like the tales themselves, beautifully unpredictable.  From Snow Queen to spaceship, The Emerald Circus is a delight.”
—Patricia A. McKillip, author of the Riddle-Master trilogy and Wonders of the Invisible World

“5/5 stars – Not only is [Yolen’s] writing style engaging and captivating, but the stories themselves are magical and fantastic to read . . . I loved every moment of this book and I couldn’t find anything wrong with it.”
The Joycean Booknerdery

An excellent collection of fairy tale ‘retellings’ written by Nebula Award-winning author Jane Yolen . . . a collection I would recommend to everyone.”
Infinite Text

“Jane Yolen is a consummate storyteller, weaving old and new threads to create tales rich in wisdom and depth. The Emerald Circus is an utter delight.”
—Juliet Marillier, award-winning author of Sevenwaters series

The Emerald Circus dances at the border between bucking tradition and paying homage to the great stories and figures of ages past. The result is a brilliant assemblage of narratives with the potential to leave an audience spellbound.”
Foreword, starred review

“Talk about imaginary gardens with real toads in them! In this wide-ranging short story collection, Jane Yolen’s scholarship and creative genius combine to bestow upon the reader fantastic new intimacy with venerable tales and persons.”
—Nancy Springer, author of The White Hart and I Am Mordred

“Jane Yolen facets her glittering stories with the craft of a master jeweller. Everything she writes, including The Emerald Circus, is original and timeless, deliciously creepy and disturbingly lovely.”
—Elizabeth Wein, author of Code Name Verity

 “In this masterful collection, Jane Yolen draws upon myth, fairy tales, history, poetry, and children’s classics from Alice to Oz to fashion new tales from the bones of the old. There is simply no better storyteller working in the fantasy field today. She’s a national treasure.”
—Terri Windling, author of The Wood Wife and The Essential Bordertown

“What a joy it is to watch Jane Yolen burrow into the hearts of familiar stories and dwell in possibilities we’d never imagined. It’s all done with Yolen’s trademark wisdom, a healthy dollop of subversion, and a twinkle in the eye. A delight!”
—Susan Fletcher, author of Dragon’s Milk and Shadow Spinner

“Jane Yolen’s collection The Emerald Circus is pure delight for anyone who craves inspired retellings of classics from literature, or re-imaginings of the lives of real literary figures. 5/5 stars”
YA Books Central

With over 350 books, Jane Yolen is a legend in the world of children’s and young-adult literature, but her acerbic and witty adult fiction and poetry offer their own pleasures. The 16 stories here, each accompanied by a related poem and notes, revisit some iconic classics, but always from a new, thought-provoking angle. . .”
Chicago Tribune

“An excellent collection.”
Fantasy Literature

Definitely one worth reading. I loved it . . . I was excited to read The Emerald Circus, and was not disappointed in the least.”
Confessions of a Book Addict

“Honestly, I don’t know when Jane Yolen finds time to sleep but I’m selfishly glad she’s been able to produce wonderful stories filled with deft turns of phrases, palpable atmosphere, and interesting, flawed characters.”
Sabrina’s Library

“In this collection you will be surprised, shocked, intrigued, and awed both by new tales and by new perspectives on old, well-loved tales. 5/5 stars”
Imagine a Book SF

“Oh Boy!  I did love this book . . .”
YA Lit Ramblings

“The best book I’ve read in a long time.”
Amazon, Celebrity Picks, Brandon Sanderson

“I loved the stories in The Emerald Circus. . . I’d  highly recommend this collection. 5/5 stars.”
The Book Lover’s Boudoir

“It’s always a treat to read a new Jane Yolen tale, but it’s especially rewarding when you thought you read them all, and then along comes The Emerald Circus collection.”
True Review

“This is a book to go back to for a writer so you can pull it apart and learn technique . . . one to keep.
Strange Alliances

“Fantasy with a feminist twist.”
Book Skill

“Deeply modern, marvelous and magical.”
Why Words Work

Praise for The Devil’s Arithmetic

“The book’s simplicity is its strength; no comment is needed because the facts speak for themselves. This brave and powerful book has much it can teach a young audience.”
Publishers Weekly

“A triumphantly moving book.”
Kirkus

[STARRED REVIEW] “[Yolen] adds much to understanding the effects of the Holocaust, which will reverberate throughout history, today and tomorrow.”
School Library Journal

Praise for Sister Emily’s Lightship

“This is [Yolen’s] first collection of genre stories for adults and it has been worth the wait.”
Publishers Weekly

“An outstanding collection.”
Voice of Youth Advocates

Praise for Briar Rose

“Terrifically moving.”
The Washington Post

“Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, Yolen’s novel is a compelling reminder of the Holocaust as well as a contemporary tale of secrets and romance.”
Booklist

Praise for Stone Angel

[STARRED REVIEW] This story provides a wonderful addition to materials about World War II and the Holocaust, and is appropriate for even the gentlest of readers.”
School Library Connection

Visit the Jane Yolen website.

Table of Contents

Stories
“Snow in Summer”
“The Bridge’s Complaint”
“The Moon Ribbon”
“Godmother Death”
“Happy Dens or A Day in the Old Wolves’ Home”
“Granny Rumple”
“One Ox, Two Ox, Three Ox, and the Dragon King”
“Brother Hart”
“Sun/Flight”
“Slipping Sideways Through Eternity”
“The Foxwife”
“The Faery Flag”
“One Old Man, with Seals”
“Sleeping Ugly”
“The Undine”
“Great-Grandfather Dragon’s Tale”
“Green Plague”
“The Unicorn and the Pool”
“The Golden Balls”
“Sister Death”
“Sule Skerry”
“Once A Good Man”
“Allerleirauh”
“The Gwynfahr”
“Cinder Elephant”
“Mama Gone”
“The Woman Who Loved A Bear”
“Wrestling with Angels”

Poems
“The Thing About Fairy Tales” / “Prince Ever After” / “Troll Maiden on the Bridge” / “Learning from Those Other Princesses” / “Stone Hand in Stone Hand: Norvelt Cemetery” / “Once Upon A Wolf” / “Spinning Straw” / “‘Story,’” the Old Man Said” / “Green Children” / “Icarus Fall” / “Ovens” / “Foxwife” / “Carrying the Flag of Faery” / “On Meeting A God” / “Old Woman by the Well” / “Warning from the Undine” / “St. George’s Sword and Word” / “To Be Paid” / “Rhinoceros” / “Frog Meet Princess” / “The Keening Woman” / “When I Was A Selchie” / “What Do We Need of Heaven” / “Cinderella in the Ashes” / “Not That Princess” Cinder Elephant / “Fat Is Not A Fairy Tale” / “The Vampire Regrets” / “Marrying the Bear” / “Jacob’s Regret”