Celebrate Tell a Fairy Tale Day on February 26 with These New Transitional Readers

National Tell a Fairy Tale Day is February 26 this year. Young readers can revisit stories about Goldilocks and Jack and the Beanstalk—with new characters and formats giving the classic stories a fresh feel.

Dean, James & Kimberly Dean. Pete the Kitty and the Three Bears. illus. by James Dean. 32p. (My First I Can Read). HarperCollins. Feb. 2024. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780063096080; pap. $5.99. ISBN 9780063096073.
K-Gr 2–Once upon a time, a cool kitty wandered through the woods and into the home of three bears, where he found pizza that was just the right temperature and a guitar that was just the right size for his little paws. Pete the Kitty embodies the character of Goldilocks in this fairy-tale twist, and a growling baby bear soon finds friendship with the unlikely visitor. The new friends rock out until the end of the story. This tale from the Dean team feels familiar, as it contains illustrations and colors similar to other “Pete the Cat” books and even incorporates various words in the style of Pete, such as dynamite and out-of-sight. Young readers can enjoy the story as a simple read aloud or a shared reading experience with a caregiver. VERDICT An inexpensive addition to “Pete the Cat” or fairy-tale remix collections.–Ellen Williams

Weiner, Andrew. Daddy and the Beanstalkillus. by Bethany Crandall. 96p. Little, Brown Ink. Nov. 2023. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780316592918.
Gr 1-4–Six-year-old Estella convinces her dad to tell her a bedtime story. She requests a “not-too-scary” one about him and his sister when they were kids and he opens with a tale that sounds very much like “Jack and the Beanstalk.” The story smoothly jumps back and forth between the real-world dad and daughter to a fantasy adventure. They humorously discuss many life lessons with Estella adding her opinions. In keeping with the original tale, seven-year-old Andy, who is Estella’s dad, is captured by a giant. Luckily his older sister followed him up the beanstalk. Together they escape and race back down, chop the beanstalk down, and cause the giant to fall. He regains consciousness and is able to explain the misunderstanding. Andy was afraid he would become soup for the giant, when in fact, the giant wanted Andy to make soup. The misunderstanding ends in friendship, and it turns out Andy makes terrible soup but throws a great pizza party. Crandall overlaps the two branches of the story while cleverly separating time lines by using pink tones for the present and yellows and greens in the fantasy past. Panels of all shapes and sizes make the story fun to read. VERDICT Laughs abound in this fractured fairy tale embedded in a bedtime story. Give this to fans of “Katie the ­Catsitter” by Colleen AF Venable and ­Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre.–Elisabeth LeBris

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