The story of “Little Red Riding Hood” may be familiar to many, but chances are most haven’t heard of “Fox and the Big Blue Jumping Hat.”
In this version of the fairy tale, Little Red is replaced with a Fox who must traverse scary woods and avoid a stranger in order to deliver cookies to the Fox’s “mum-mum,” which just happen to contain very rare medicine that the Fox’s mum-mum must have in order for everyone to live happily ever after.
If it sounds like the author of this story had a bit of fun using their imagination, then the sixth-grade students of Methacton School District’s Skyview Upper Elementary School have done well.
“The idea is taking a story and altering it to allow more opportunity for creativity,” Joan Munro, Skyview Upper Elementary school sixth-grade teacher, said.
For the third year in a row, Munro’s students have submitted their own original versions of familiar fairy tales or popular stories to the Skyview Celestial’s Fractured Fairy Tale project.
Munro said that Fairy Tales, as a literary genre, have familiar themes and elements, such as magic and adventure, good versus evil, which help drive the imaginations of her students. She said the stories also incorporate key literacy lessons, including similes, metaphors and descriptive and figurative language.
This resulted in stories that turned Jack’s beanstalk into a “squishy-squashy” mushroom patch, describing a lion’s roar as louder than a jet engine, or how a magic pea placed under a mattress did not reveal a princess but rather turned her into a disgusting blob before being rescued by a “hograt” prince (whom the princess later refused to marry).
“As you can tell, these stories are genuinely theirs,” Munro said at this year’s Skyview Celestial’s Fractured Fairy Tale public reading.
The students, representing the school’s Celestial team of reading teachers [the team name is a riff off of the elementary school’s name], had the opportunity to publicly read their creative works in front of their peers, teachers, parents and patrons of the Lower Providence Community Library, where the event took place.
This year’s event occurred on the evening of Jan. 23, with over 100 people in attendance. According to Munro, public attendance for the readings has grown over the years, which helps make the readings an important and special occasion for the students.
“I wanted to give them an opportunity to showcase their work,” Munro said. “It becomes a forum for students outside the classroom.”
She added that having the reading held in the library helps students and their attending families learn that the library is an important and accessible public resource.
School and Library Partnership
Nearly 20 students shared their fractured Fairy Tale stories, during the event. Each one braved the lone library podium, and spoke before a backdrop of their classmates' work. Prior to the holiday break, a wall in the library was decorated with the printed works of the students.
Munro, along with district technology specialist Layla Lyons and Karen Whitton, managing director of Do Moore, a Norristown-based job coaching service for adults with disabilities, arranged the mosaic of works and ensured that each student-work could be seen by library patrons.
“We’ve got tons of positive feedback with your writing,” Sandrah Moles, Lower Providence Library children and teens librarian, said during the event. “People come in and love reading them.”
According to Skyview principal, Melissa Gorla, the relationship between the school district and its local community library is strong.
“I love the community partnership with the library,” Gorla said. “It gives them a global perspective.”
Gorla, who came to the event with other Skyview staff and teachers, noted that a public library can help students enhance academic pursuits independently.
“I love them all, this was a great experience,” Louie Betz, sixth-grade Skyview student, said of the opportunity to read his story, “The Striker and the Three Bowling Pins.”
While he said that he was a little nervous at first, he was proud to demonstrate the lessons he learned in crafting his own fractured Fairy Tale.
“I learned that when you’re writing, you can have fun and make up your own story,” Louie said.