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Reviewed by Ronél Steyn for Readers' Favorite
On the internet, the definition of a fairy tale is a “fabricated story, especially one intended to deceive” and that it is “marked by seemingly unreal beauty, perfection, luck, or happiness.” The message is clear! Somehow, most still refer to finding true love as discovering one’s Prince Charming and living happily ever after. In Cinderella Didn’t Live Happily Ever After: The Hidden Messages in Fairy Tales by Anne E. Beall, an in-depth analysis is conducted of the contents of the collection of the Brothers Grimm’s fairy tales published in 1812. Her team determines who is set to succeed and who will usually fail. The results may surprise you! Accompanying these studies are beautiful illustrations by Jin A. Lee.
When I introduced fairy tales to my son, I altered a few things. I asked him questions like: “How can the prince want to marry someone he hasn’t even spoken to? What if she has a wicked heart? What if they don’t like the same color? What if she isn’t funny?” That was why I chose to read Cinderella Didn't Live Happily Ever After. Anne E. Beall took the time to study the various stories that are so ingrained in our culture. Facts are set out methodically and there are more than enough references to the relevant fairy tales to prove the point. I appreciated the “major message” after each chapter as they summed it all up. I loved the references to recent movies such as Brave and Frozen, showing that princesses don’t need a knight in shining armor to sweep them off their feet. Sometimes, we need facts and charts to illustrate a point when the idea alone might not have enough substance to merit a change in perspective.