Vivian Vande Velde Main Page
Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird
Ages: 10 & up
Publisher: Harcourt
Book Description:

13 twisted versions of such familiar tales as Red Riding Hood, Jack and the Beanstalk, Hansel and Gretel, and the Three Billy Goats Gruff.

Scroll down to read the entire page, or click on a link to go directly to:
Where do you GET those ideas?
More Stuff


* "Terrific fun." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Entertaining and provocative, these selections make good read-alouds and can be used to spark discussion or creative writing exercises." -- School Library Journal


  • ALA Best Book for Young Adults
  • ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers
  • IRA Young Adults' Choice
  • Storytelling World Winner "Tellable Stories" (1996) (for "Jack" and "Frog")

Where do you GET those ideas?

I got the idea for writing Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird from thinking about fairy tales and how quite often they don't make sense.  I just couldn't figure out why the characters acted the way they did, so I made up my own reasons. Playing with fairy tales can be addictive. I started with Rumplestiltzkin, but in the end hit most of the best-known fairy tales.


(I think I've gotten into trouble because this appears on the back cover of Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird. I think parents are scared off by thinking the book is rated PG-13, and I think they believe that this describes the stories in the book. This is just a poem. (Or, more accurately, thoughts expressed in short lines.) These stories do not appear in the book.)


Fairy-tale endings you're not likely to see:

  • after growing into a beautiful swan, the Ugly Duckling pecks all his tormentors to death. 
  • the Emperor orders the execution of everyone who's seen him naked.
  • the lazy cat, dog, and mouse suffocate the Little Red Hen with her own cake.
  • the elves lock the Shoemaker and his wife in the basement, take all their money, and run off to Central America, where they operate a pirate radio station.
  • the Gingerbread Man turns out to be carnivorous and eats the fox.
  • Snow White and Sleeping Beauty simply refuse to get out of bed.
  • when a portion of the sky really does fall, Chicken Little becomes the leader of her own religious movement; she gets her own TV show, collects millions of dollars to build a theme park, then makes off with the money, joining the elves in Central America.

More Stuff

To hear me read "Frog" from Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird, click here.


Another cover by Brad Weinman: Smart Dog.

Check out Brad Weinman's website here.

The first story I wrote for this collection was "Straw into Gold," a look at the story of Rumplestiltzkin. I had so much fun with that telling that I eventually wrote an entire collection of stories about millers, daughters, straw, gold, and people who could (or could not) turn one into the other. I collected these into the book The Rumpelstiltskin Problem.



  Link to Rumplestiltskin Problem




Note that the Harcourt editor liked one spelling of the little guy's name, and the Houghton Mifflin editor preferred another.


Tales from the Brothers Grimm and Sisters Weird charm bracelet made by my very clever daughter. Visit her Sparkly Something website.