by Patch O'Furr
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer. Fred writes: three or four reviews of furry books that I wrote in 2003 or 2004 have vanished from the Internet. I wrote them for the first version of Watts Martin’s Claw & Quill site, which he has apparently taken down. Here they are back online.
Leaping Beauty: And Other Animal Fairy Tales, by Gregory Maguire. Illustrated by Chris L. Demarest.
NYC, HarperCollinsPublishers, August 2004, hardcover $15.99 (197 pages, Kindle $7.99.
Some people can’t hear Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” without thinking of the Lone Ranger. I couldn’t read Leaping Beauty without imagining it being read aloud by Edward Everett Horton as the Narrator of the “Fractured Fairy Tales” on Jay Ward’s Rocky and His Friends/The Bullwinkle Show. Leaping Beauty is categorized as an Ages 8 – 12 children’s book. Sure, and Jay Ward’s TV cartoons were for kids, too.
Leaping Beauty is exactly in the style of “Fractured Fairy Tales” except that the eight stories all feature animal casts. Some are in traditional fairy-tale settings, such as “Leaping Beauty” which takes place in a swamp kingdom with a bullfrog king & queen. At their polliwog princess’ christening, a bumblebee good fairy blesses her with a loud voice. “She will have a beautiful voice for all to hear and enjoy. Her ribbit will be as loud as a foghorn.” Old Dame Hornet, the nasty fairy they forgot to invite, wishes she will die as an exploding frog, but the last good fairy who has not used his wish yet tries to save her. So the polliwog grows up to become a weeping, sleeping, leaping beauty who hops over to demand Dame Hornet lift the curse. “The sound came right up to Old Dame Hornet’s doorway and went away again, like an ambulance driving by, and driving right back. Like an ambulance going up and down the street, hour after hour.”
Some are in modernized settings, such as “Rumplesnakeskin”: