New release today: Lies, Knives, and Girls in Red Dresses by Ron Koertge and illustrated by Andrea Dezso.
No, it's not a picture book and not for the preschool set as the cover makes clear, but with Candlewick as publisher and an illustrator on the cover, a few of you might have wondered!
Writing in free verse honed to a wicked edge, the incomparable Ron Koertge brings dark and contemporary humor to twenty iconic fairy tales.
Once upon a time, there was a strung-out match girl who sold CDs to stoners. Twelve impetuous sisters escaped King Daddy’s clutches to jiggle and cavort and wear out their shoes. A fickle Thumbelina searched for a tiny husband, leaving bodies in her wake. And Little Red Riding Hood confessed that she kind of wanted to know what it’s like to be swallowed whole. From bloodied and blinded stepsisters (they were duped) to a chopped-off finger flying into a heroine’s cleavage, this is fairy tale world turned upside down. Ron Koertge knows what really happened to all those wolves and maidens, ogres and orphans, kings and piglets, and he knows about the Ever After. So come closer— he wants to whisper in your ear.
Here's an excerpt from Diamonds and Toads--most of it actually, but it gives you a full taste of the book, courtesy of Publishers Weekly which actually has three full excerpts:
Do you see the ending? Some nice prince gets a slot machine for a wife. The other marries a herpetologist.
Except it isn't that simple. The gift/curse can't be turned off. There's no such thing as a casual conversation:
Out come the rubies and pearls. Or the vipers and toads. Making love means scribbling notes and destroying the mood.
Rueful. Everyone is rueful, the husbands especially. At first it was fascinating. Later, not so much. And now. Yikes!
The sight of two servant girls gossiping excites those guys more than the local pornography. They start coming home late.
"Where have you been?" the sisters shriek, covering the floor with pearls or asps. The men hedge and stammer, then admit,
"All right. We've been listening to somebody else, somebody who doesn't puke every time she opens her mouth."
Next morning the men are found swollen and disfigured, with diamonds where their eyes used to be.