Thursday, September 26, 2019

"The Secret of the Tattered Shoes" - A Fresh, Dark & Poetic Retelling by Jackie Morris

Now available in the UK (and coming to the US in Fall 2020) is a new and "poetically dark" retelling of The Twelve Dancing Princesses (also known as The Shoes That Were Danced To Pieces). Always popular among fairy tale fans, and often voted as "one of the fairy tales I wish Disney would animate", there haven't been as many retellings as one would think, though it appears to have gained notice again recently and we're seeing projects bubble up using this fairy tale here and there...

The Secret of the Tattered Shoes is from publisher Tiny Owl's series One Story, Many Voices, in which authors and illustrators explore well-known fairy tales and folktales from different perspectives. (They are the same folks who are behind Cinderella of the Nile.)

Here's the description for the new Morris/Abdollahi collaboration:
The Secret of the Tattered Shoes is a fresh interpretation of the beloved Brothers Grimm fairy tale about twelve princesses who are locked in at night, yet whose dancing shoes are still worn down by morning. A young soldier is tasked to discover their night-time adventures. But unlike the story told by the Brothers Grimm, this soldier seeks a different ending. Jackie's dark and poetic text updates this well-known tale and shows how stories evolve and adapt over time.
Beautifully illustrated by Ehsan Abdollahi, who has created stunning puppet-like illustrations in rich and delicate detail, this unique illustrative style brings the story to life and perfectly encapsulate the beauty and melancholy of the story.
Have a look at the lovely book trailer by publisher Tiny Owl:
Made known to the next generation most recently via her award-winning illustrations for The Lost Words, (with writing by Robert Mcfarlane) Jackie Morris, an illustrator and author for many years, has put her writing to work and created a poetic retelling of the fairy tale.

Iranian artist, animator, and teacher, Ehsan Abdollahi, who uses handmade papers in his collages, has created beautiful and eye-catching puppet-like illustrations that Morris says captures her vision for the tale exactly as she meant. "The paintings are so beautiful. With the echo of birdsong in the feathers become leaves. The textures are wonderful, the characters just lovely. "

About her story, Jackie says:
"It concerns a man, traumatised by the choices he has made, tired of life, weary of the world, a wanderer. He wanders, this lost soul, and meets a wise woman who lives in the forest, more at home with the creatures of the world than the human creatures. She sees the damage to his soul, sends him on his way, hopes he will find peace. Wishes it to be so. And she gives him a gift and a slight piece of advice. He meets women of another kind and undertakes a task, sure in the knowledge that it will end in his death.The ending might surprise. Does he find the peace his heart seeks, or does he choose death?"
Photo via Jon Biddle 
@jonnybid on Twitter

You can see a sort-of behind-the-scenes of the illustrations and layout as the book was being created that Jackie shared on her blog HERE, which reveals some of Ehsan's fascinating process. Ehsan's animator-eye is very evident as he assembles his collages! (A lovely example is shown below.)

Here's a review by Liz Robinson at LoveReading4Kids, explaining a little of how this retelling is unique:
In process piece for The Secret of the Tattered Shoes
by Ehsan Abdollahi
Exquisitely gorgeous illustrations accompany a well known fairy tale with a difference, an edge. Tiny Owl Publishing have a series of books called ‘One Story, Many Voices’, where authors and illustrators explore well known fairy tales from different perspectives. Here, the Twelve Dancing Princesses from the Brothers Grimm are transformed into The Secret of the Tattered Shoes by Jackie Morris. I opened the package containing the book and exclaimed in delight. The illustrations by Ehsan Abdollahi carry the story perfectly, the gold glistens, the pears call to be picked, the background as stunning as the puppet-like characters. The story by award-winning Jackie Morris sits boldly on the page, simple, evocative, familiar yet different. The love that Jackie Morris holds for nature shines through, while the ending made me smile, it suits, it feels, well, just so right. The Secret of the Tattered Shoes conjures the traditional fairy tale yet awakens new feelings and thoughts. I absolutely adored this rich and vibrant tale, both for the new interpretation, and the illustrations which adorn it.
Sold yet? We are!

UK fairy tale folks can go to Tiny Owl and order HERE. Keen folk in the US (who don't have the patience to wait till Fall 2020) can order a minimum of two directly from Tiny Owl, to help support their awesome indie mission of providing new perspectives on familiar fairy tales, (you can contact them through Twitter for the exact details), and they'll ship to you.

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