If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." - Albert Einstein
I don't believe in arguing with Einstein, and in this case I think he particularly correct. I've loved fairy tales in all their forms before I even knew that's what they were because The Wizard of Oz and Tchaikovsky's The Nutcraker are certainly fairy tales and they captivated me from the first. There is magic in those opening words....
... Once Upon A Time
Each time I read a fairy tale - whether a new one like The Juniper Tree, which I'd never heard of until recently, or enjoy an old one like The Steadfast Tin Soldier, my personal Hans Christian Anderson favorite, I discover something new. About the characters, about their journey, and most importantly about myself.
I think this is the reason retellings, from television, movies, books, and musicals, are so popular right now. They inform us and inspire us while carrying us away to a place where magic exists, good triumphs one way or another, and there is hope. Hope for success, riches and, of course, happily ever after.
And I believe the fact that we choose tell and retell them so many ways - contemporary, steampunk, or from the villain's point of view - speaks to how timeless and important these stories are. They are our versions of myths and legends. We don't need a God of the Sun or the Seasons to explain the world around us, but because we still struggle with right and wrong, love and loss, and making difficult decisions fairy tales help us along on our own journeys.
I've had the pleasure of editing and contributing to five anthologies with retold fairy tales, three erotic and two dark fiction, and it never ceases to amaze me how many ways we can explore these timeless tales. I expect this will be a lifelong love of mine, and judging from media around me - I know I'm in good company.
What are you favorite fairy tales - and your favorite version of them?