but at night I’m just a dad who puts / the kids to bed. …”
– From “East of the Sun and West of the Moon”
(Click to enlarge)
And, to be clear right off the bat, this is an illustrated book, but it’s not a picture book for young children. This is very much a YA/adult title.
Many of you may have already seen this collection of free verse poems, Ron Koertge’s Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses, released in July by Candlewick. U.S. Children’s Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis has said it’s “the best antidote I know to the sanctimonious sanitizing of fairy tales.” (Once I read that, I knew I had to read this book myself.)
Here, Koertge isn’t afraid to get gruesome, subversive, and downright nightmarish in his re-telling of 23 classic fairy tales. The blood-red endpapers give you a taste of this, followed by an invitation right off the bat from our author: “Do you want to sleep? Find another storyteller. Do you want to think about the world in a new way? Come closer. Closer, please. I want to whisper in your ear.”
This is the world of Ever After, and this ain’t no Disney.