Fractured fairy tales are some of our favourite stories, especially since these are usually wittier than the originals. And, having read six versions of Jack and the Beanstalk — three of which are classic retellings — our hands-down favourite is this brilliant sequel to the classic fairy tale, conceived by Raymond Briggs in 1970(!), way before such stories became hip or common.
Traditional fairy tales tend to portray the female protagonists as helpless damsels who wait to be rescued by their designated princes (see: Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, etc.), and while there’s nothing wrong with the romantic idea of happily ever after, which does work out just fine for some people, the danger comes when girls — and worse, boys — grow up subscribing to the narrow confines of these gender stereotypes. Which brings us to the importance of kids being exposed to alternative fairy tales, with characters who are unafraid of breaking the mould.
As its title alludes, instead of the usual focus on the three pigs and their houses, Huff & Puff gives the tale an ingeniously interactive and original twist by allowing the reader to have a first-person feel of the part of the wolf — likely inspired by the enthusiasm shown by kids when it comes to blowing out birthday candles (both their own and, ahem, otherwise).