Road Trip Wednesday: Retell Me a Story

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question. This Week’s Topic: In honor of this month’s Bookmobile book, Marissa Meyer’s CINDER, name a fable or story you’d like to see a retelling of. If you’re feeling creative, come up with a premise of your own!

Like many kids, I really loved fairy tales. Disney offered heaping doses of Cinderella and Snow White, Rocky & Bullwinkle gave me off-kilter yarns via its Fractured Fairy Tales (fun fact: Edward Everett Horton was my first voice crush), and Mother Goose rhythmically introduced me to poetry.

But because I’ve always been drawn to the dark side, my favorite cautionary fairy tales are courtesy of the Brothers Grimm. One that has always stuck with me is “The Juniper Tree.”

Jacob (foreground, right) & Wilhem Grimm. CC photo via Wikimedia Commons.

The gist: A woman happily married to a wealthy man stands beneath a juniper tree during winter, peeling an apple. She cuts herself and as the blood drips into the snow, she laments, “If only I had a child as red as blood and as white as snow.” A sense of peace overtakes her and, as can only happen in fairy tales, she becomes pregnant right away.

Apparently, joy is deadly because as the birth approaches, she falls ill and asks her husband to bury her beneath the juniper tree when she dies. Which, of course, she does, mere days after her red-white son is born.

Her grief-stricken husband honors her dying wish, but eventually marries again. The new wife gives birth to a daughter, Marlene, and she resents her stepson for standing in the way of Marlene’s inheritance, working overtime finding creative ways to treat him like crap. The Devil is a busy man indeed and it all goes gloriously, maniacally downhill from there.

Why it works for me: Murder, cover-ups, lies, scandal, unintentional cannibalism, retribution, instant karma, and rebirth. What more could you ask for? It gave me nightmares as a kid and made me glad these guys got this crazy stuff out on paper. Lord knows what could’ve happened if they hadn’t!

I haven’t read Barbara Comyns’ book or seen the movie starring Björk, both similarly named adaptations, but I think it’s high time someone in YA-land took a crack at this one.

Meaning me, of course. 😀 Consider it officially in the idea queue!

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7 thoughts on “Road Trip Wednesday: Retell Me a Story”

  1. I have never heard of this story, but I am sure it would have scared me half to death as a little kid. I agree, though, the best fairy tales have some dark twist to them. Good choice.

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  2. Goodness I love retelling old folk tales. I even tried my hand at starting one modeled after Hansel and Gretel that takes place during the 1940s in South Carolina (my homestate). I just had too many ideas on my plate at the time to keep my interest in the project. One day I may pick it back up.

    A tale I’d love to see retold is The Twelve Months. It was in a story book my mother bought us and for some reason it fascinated me. It’s simple but it could be made so much darker. 😉

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twelve_Months_%28fairy_tale%29

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    1. Yeah, just the synopsis of The Twelve Months sounds so interesting! Hansel and Gretel’s one that really gave me chills. As a kid, I had nightmares about getting lost because of that one.

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