Thursday, January 5, 2012

Leaping Beauty by Gregory Maguire

Many people know Gregory Maguire for his bestseller, Wicked:  The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.  However, he has so many more stories out there, and not just for adults.  Leaping Beauty is a collection of shorts for the younger crowd, written after his above mentioned bestseller.  He wrote the eight stories in eight days, all with a twisted fairy tale spin.

Maguire takes the classic tales that we grew up with, changes the characters to the most unexpected animals, and adds a bit of humor that leaves the reader entertained and eager to read more.  My personal favorite tale was "Hamster and Gerbil," in honor of "Hansel and Gretel."  The title characters are adopted by beaver parents, but the mother passes on.  The father marries an evil skunk and immediately plans to get rid of the children.  Instead of a candy-covered home, the children find . . .
"The house had walls made out of dog biscuits.  Cunning little paths around it were strewn with hamster and gerbil food.  The roof was made of a scrumptious fresh lettuce leaf, and the chimney was made of a big hollow steak bone.  Out of the chimney came the delicious smell of hot stewing kitty friskies, in flavors of chicken, liver, and fish."  (p. 50-51)
Any hamster or gerbil would be tempted by this and any reader would be entertained.  Maguire explores more tales in just the same way . . . creative, amusing, and at times, a tad bit sarcastic.  From a circus-dreaming chimp to a walrus that takes on the role of a wolf and three chickens that fill the shoes of bears, Maguire brings the familiar into the new tales but does not always end them in the same way.

Fans of fairy tales, lovers of animal stories, and those who simply need a good laugh, I recommend picking up Leaping Beauty.  Personally, I am on the hunt for an audio version narrated by the author himself in addition to my own personal copy.  If you have ever seen the author in person, you would know the value of finding this personalized narration that caused him to continuously laugh out loud!

What animals can you envision in your favorite fairy tale?


  1. This is one of the few Gregory Maguire books I don't own yet but you've convinced me that I need to get it. I think that Z would love it! We'll have to make sure and read the classic tales first though.

  2. Kristen M. ... If you can find it on audio, I would recommend that! I'm looking for it myself!! Maguire personally told me that he couldn't stop laughing as he narrated it!! He is already a wonderful speaker, so when he told me this, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy if possible!


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