If your child is longing for short stories and fairy tales instead of the "dreaded" novel for summer reading, A Wolf at the Door may be a viable solution. Writers such as Jane Yolen and Michael Cadnum give a unique spin to some old tales. These stories are excellent alternatives to the nursery tales from early childhood. Told with much darker, somber tones, A Wolf at the Door is a wonderful study on perspective and variation. For example, we all know about Jack climbing the beanstalk; but perhaps we haven't given the giant couple a fair shake. I mean, did anyone bother to find out if the giant meant to harm Englishmen? According to the giantess, we only know half the story.

Among my favorites are Kelly Link's "Swans" and Nancy Farmer's "Falada: The Goose Girl's Horse." The stories are told in a matter-of-fact manner, which is laughable unto itself (I mean, doesn't everybody know that some goblins like to chew on fairy horses' ears?? And what if you don't want to kiss an animal to break a spell??).

A nice bonus is the commentary at the end of each story. The authors are asked to comment on their favorite childhood stories and the featured stories themselves. While their favorites don't always match up with their retellings, this is a nice feature that adds to the credibility of re-examining tales that had been simplified previously for young ears and eyes. A Wolf at the Door is a nice starting point for older readers interested in finding the origins of some of the most well-known yarns of our time.

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