cover image DEBI GLIORI'S BEDTIME STORIES: Bedtime Tales with a Twist

DEBI GLIORI'S BEDTIME STORIES: Bedtime Tales with a Twist

Debi Gliori, . . DK, $15.99 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-8861-9

Gliori (Penguin Post, Children's Forecasts, Sept. 9) here reworks nine childhood chestnuts, four of them in verse. In her most successful effort, she sharpens the edge of the usually stolidly portrayed Little Red Hen. The plucky heroine possesses the overly bright eyes of a genuine workaholic and a passive-aggressive industriousness that's a perfect foil for the urbane insouciance of her antagonists ("Call me picky," complains the indolent Cat—after eating a breakfast that the hen has prepared—while simultaneously working a crossword puzzle, "but the porridge wasn't exactly up to scrrrratch, was it?"). On the next spread, Pig, Cat and Duck lounge by a pond with an hauteur worthy of habitués of the Côte d'Azur. A verse version of "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse" also has some zingy moments, as when the rodents trek from the sticks to the swanky pad of the fashionable citydweller: "The cousins set off/ through cornfields and meadows;/ one in her waders/ the other, stillettoes." But the sense of irony and the characters' self-awareness—essential to the better fractured fairy tales—is missing here, for the most part (save for the clever porcine builder, Porkstone, who blithely watches the wolf huff and puff its way into his cement mixer). Still, when it comes to reassuring or even gently tickling her readers, Gliori has few equals. Ages 3-5. (Sept.)