cover image Feminist Fairytales

Feminist Fairytales

Barbara G. Walker. HarperOne, $22 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-251319-9

Walker has applied her considerable scholarship to re-spin classic fairy tales, reinterpret folklore staples and write a few original stories of her own in a manner that reflects a serious--and sometimes funny--feminist mind. Wordplay groaners (characters named Barbidol, Devi Jones, Lowkey) and contemporary mores, terms and conveniences in ancient settings (running water, a silicon-based race, true-crime stories, private schools) may amuse some. But the strength of the work lies in rich, lyrical straight pieces like ``The Descent of Shaloma,'' ``The Oracle'' and ``The White God.'' In perfect read-aloud cadence, the stories elevate women to the heroic roles: Gorga, who umasks the dragon; Ugly, who lives narcissism-free with the Beast; Jill, who descends the beanroot into the earth; Ala Dean, who asks the lamp not for riches but for peace and equality; White Riding Hood, who feeds the hunter to the wolves. Walker introduces each of the 28 stories with a brief commentary on its origins and meaning--from Gotterdammerung to Jung. Her feminism is couched in complexities that make this a book to build a seminar around. Illustrated by Laurie Harden. (Jan.)