Cinder Edna

Cinder EdnaCinder Edna is the liberated neighbour of Cinderella. Cinderella needs a fairy godmother to get her to the ball; Cinder Edna earns money mowing lawns and cleaning parrot cages. She earns enough for the dress, wears comfortable loafers to the ball, and takes the bus. She gets the best prince too—the brother of the one Cinderella marries.

Ellen Jackson, Mulberry Books, 1998, ISBN 0688162959

Here It Is, and Again, and Again.

A turning point in the story is going to be that Cinder Edna knows 16 ways to make tuna casserole. The fact is planted in the story when we first meet her and it is listed as one of her skills. It is mentioned again when she meets Rupert and discovers he likes tuna casserole too. Finally, Rupert uses the 16 types of tuna casserole to determine which is the real Cinder Edna.

This is a really great skill to teach students when writing a story. When you have decided on the solution to your problem, you can plant it into the story three times—the first two quite unobtrusively. It makes the whole story seem to come together perfectly.

What Happened Next Stories

In addition to being really entertaining, the “What Happened Next” story is a natural development of the predicting skill of reading. It is also easy to write because students do not have to create a character, a setting, a problem, etc. They can limit themselves to a problem or two for their character.

There are many existing “What Happened Next” stories, but you will not want to have the students read them before they write their own. However, studying them afterward can show students that many adults do what they have just done and make a good living doing it.

First, brainstorm a list of fairy tales where “What Happened Next?” Here are some possibilities: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs , Three Billy Goats Gruff, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, and The Frog Prince.

For 5 creative writing ideas, click Cinder Edna to download.


Goldie and the Three Hares

GoldieandtheThreeHaresThe Hare family is having dinner when Goldilocks, fleeing from the three bears, falls down the hole. Having hurt her foot, she remains as a guest, but is a terrible one. How can the Hare family get rid of her?

Margie Palatini, Harper Collins, ©2011, 978-0-06-125314-0

Houseguest Manners

Goldilocks is a living example of absolutely terrible houseguest manners. They are so bad, that students should be able to construct a “good house guest manners list” that consists of mainly doing the opposite of what she does. Challenge them in small groups to come up with a list of 10 Great House Guest rules. (They shouldn’t forget bringing a gift for the host/hostess and sending a thank you note.)

The Trailer

The trailer for this book is really a trailer, that is, it summarizes her departure from the three bears and then proceeds to describe how she is the “houseguest who won’t leave.” It’s clever and fun.

Personal Writing (Extreme Writing)

Some topics for personal writing might be:

  • Stories about sleepovers and other times I was a houseguest. (At Grandmother’s? Or a sleepover?)
  • Stories about injuries I have suffered in my life.
  • House rules: If you were going to write them down, what are the house rules for your house?
    • No shoes on the furniture.
    • Brush your teeth before sleep.
    • Make your bed?
    • Say grace?
    • Do the dishes? etc.

For 9 creative writing ideas, click Goldie and the Three Hares to download.

The Princess and the Pizza

ThePrincessandthePizzaThe king has given up his kingdom and his daughter decides to try to marry Prince Drupert so she enters the competition for his hand. During the food portion of the competition she accidentally invents pizza and discovers that she would rather sell pizza than marry the prince.

Mary Jane and Herm Auch, Holiday House, © 2002, ISBN 0-8234-1683-6

Stories about Inventing

This story is about the invention of pizza and how it got its name. Students could be asked to write inventive stories of how ice-cream, sandwiches, Coca-Cola, and other common foods were invented got their names. These “how things came to be” stories have their roots in ancient Greek tales by Aesop, and extend to the 20th century tales of Paul Bunyan.

Genre Writing

There are several writing topics that rise naturally from this picture book. The topics could be done as Five Square Genre as well.

  • Write the essay: Why I Want to Have the Gracious and Exquisitely Beautiful Queen Zelda for my mother-in-law.
  • Write a letter from Queen Zelda to the princess asking Paulina to forgive all and getting permission to marry her dad.
  • Write a story of what happened to one of the other princesses on her way home.
  • Write a personal memory about a time when you were treated unfairly. (It doesn’t have to turn out well.)
  • Write a diary entry from Paulina about her new boyfriend who is the opposite in every way from Prince Drupert.

For 6 creative writing ideas, click The Princess and the Pizza to download.

Such a Prince

such-prince-dan-bar-el-book-cover-artMarvin, is small, skinny, and in competition for the princess with several rude suitors. With the assistance of an an unusual fairy he succeeds in presenting the princess with the three perfect peaches she needs. Unfortunately, rather than giving him his daughter, the kind presents him with challenges including fattening 100 rabbits without losing any of them. Of course he succeeds, with a little magic. An adaptation of a French fairy tale.

Dan Bar-el, Houghton Mifflin, ©2007, 13:978-0-618-71468-1

Once Upon a Time Magazine

The cover features many of the elements of a magazine at the supermarket, trying to tempt you to read what is inside the magazine. “Local Fairy Tells All”, “Exclusive Story!”, “Shocking Pictures”, “Happy Ending Inside!”, and “Will He Win Princess Vera’s Heart?” are all from the cover of Such a Prince.

Bring some magazines into class such as: US, People, Star, National Enquirer, etc. Discuss how the headlines and catchlines try to sell the magazine to a customer who is waiting at checkout. Which headlines draw them the most? Would that be the same for their parents? For their next piece of writing, ask students to create a simple magazine-style cover featuring those kinds of elements to draw people into their piece.

Listening Skill

As you read, ask students to make a list of what the fairy tells us are her qualities. She mentions that she is a people person, naturally curious, likes to stay active and busy, and isn’t flashy.

For 5 creative writing ideas, click Such a Prince, to download.

Cinderella’s Rat

CinderellasRatCinderella’s Rat is captured in a cage, but is “rescued” by the fairy godmother and becomes the coachman for Cinderella’s trip to the ball. During the ball the coachmen wait, eating in the kitchen. Suddenly, his rat sister appears, looking for him, and to prevent the other coachman from killing him, over hero says she has been enchanted. They take her to a wizard to have her changed back to a girl. The wizard makes several errors and finally creates a girl with the voice of a dog. The happy ending is that the rat’s sister is great at scaring cats away. (More complicated to describe than to read.)

Andrea Cheng, Walker and Co., NY, ©2003, ISBN 0-8027-8831-9

The Generalization Ending

Cinderella’s Rat opens with the following lines: “I was born a rat. I expected to be a rat all my days. But life is full of surprises.” The book ends with the lines: “Now I live in a cottage with my family. Food is plentiful and cats are scarce. Life is full of surprises. You might as well get used to it.”

This is a nice of example of a type of ending which you can teach students. The easiest way is to have them write a series of anecdotes and at the end write what they learned from that experience in a short line. During “RE-VISIONING” they can re-write the opening to create a line representing the life lesson, which they repeat at the end of the tale.

The Rant

Rick Mercer used to provide a RANT on CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes. He has continued on The Mercer Report. He selects a topic and “rant on” in a humorous way about that topic for a period of time. Students writing a rant could choose a fairy tale and then write a RANT complaining about something from the point of view of that character. The example that follows is from the fairy tale Cinderella, from the point of view of the fairy godmother.

For 4 creative writing ideas, click Cinderella’s Rat to download.

The Wolf Who Cried Boy

wolf who cried boyLittle Wolf never likes what is made for dinner:  Lamburgers, Sloppy Does, Chocolate Moose—nothing pleases him.  All he can think about is “boy”—boy chops, baked boy-tatoes and boys -n-berry pie. On the way home to three pig salad, Little Wolf has the idea of pretending to see a boy. After this trick results in him getting junk food for several nights, his father overhears him bragging to a friend. They refuse to listen to him…even though he has seen an entire troop of boy scouts in the woods, and one even enters the cave. Lesson learned, and the boys, at least, live happily ever after.

Bob Hartman, GP Putnam, 2002, ISBN 0-399-23578-7.

Wolf Variations

Students should be able to draw the comparisons between this story and the original Boy Who Cried Wolf. If you read them the original story and then this one, they should be able to construct a VENN diagram to compare and contrast the two stories (see the blackline master).

Then you could ask them to brainstorm other stories into which a wolf variation could be included: Chicken Wolf (from Chicken Little), Little Red Wolf (from the Little Red Hen), Wolf and the Beanstalk (from Jack and the Beanstalk – although it will be hard for a wolf to climb), etc. They could then try to write a new a clever version of the story with the wolf as a main character.

Fairy Tales and Fables With Wolves

Many fairy tales, particularly “northern” tales feature wolves…possibly because they were a real danger in the time of the stories. Many of Aesop’s fables also feature wolves, which makes one think that perhaps this is one of the dangers in Greece at the time of Aesop as well.

A list of tales you may wish your students to read and discuss includes:

  1. Little Red Riding Hood (Grimm fairy tale)
  2. The Three Little Pigs (Grimm fairy tale)
  3. The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids (Grimm fairy tale)
  4. The Dog and the Wolf (Aesop)
  5. The Wolf and the Lamb (Aesop)
  6. The Wolf and the Crane (Aesop)


For 5 creative writing ideas, click The Wolf Who Cried Boy to download.

An Undone Fairy Tale

An undone fairy taleOur illustrator is racing through the book trying to tell the story of a pie-loving king who has imprisoned his stepdaughter.  He will only release her when a suitor kills the dragon.  We, “the readers”, are  reading too fast for the illustrator to keep up.  This results in emergency art substations that detour our plot.

Ian Lendler, Simon and Schuster, ©2005, 0-689-86677-1

Writing to the Model
Students could imitate the model of this book. In this story, as it proceeds, the reader catches up to the illustrator who has to compromise and thus affects the story. The author increasingly frantically begs the reader to slow down, to no avail. The separation between what the author is writing and what the author is saying is made by a change of font. When the students are writing, it could be accomplished by highlighting what the author says to the reader in yellow – which can easily be read through, but shows that the author is speaking in his/her “real” voice. The student plot cannot depend on illustrations, but rather on interruptions due to “fast reading.”

A good idea is to start by brainstorming the kinds of problems an author/illustrator could have in writing;

  • running out of ink.
  • can’t write as fast as you can read.
  • including conversation really slows down the writing.
  • writer’s block.
  • writer’s cramp, etc.

The next step is for students to outline the real story they want to tell, because they will be interrupting themselves and will want to remember where they are going. The final step is to start to write. The teaching ideas PDF contains a sample for students of the beginnings of a story.

Journal Ideas
It’s always valuable to use a picture book as a prompt to journal writing. Try to have at least three choices so that students can select the one about which they think they can write the most, or if they run out of steam, can write on a second topic as well. Some possibilities are:

  • times you have been interrupted when you are trying to do something.
  • speaking to a group.
  • a time when a project did not go well.

For 4 creative writing ideas, click  An Undone Fairy Tale to download.

Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter

rumpelstiltskinThis fractured fairy tale begins after “Meredith” marries Rumpelstiltskin instead of the king and they have a daughter, Hope. Occasionally Rumpelstiltskin spins some gold and Hope takes it to the village. On hearing of it, the king captures her and demands she spin gold. She says she is not sure, but believes her grandfather did it with wheat. So it is planted across the kingdom. The peasants are happy, but the king still wants gold. Next, they try gold wool—again, the peasants are happy, but the king wants gold. Eventually, Hope becomes Prime Minister and, whenever the king becomes anxious, she takes him on a goodwill tour of his now happy kingdom.

Diane Stanley, ©1997, Harper Collins, ISBN 0-688-14327 – X

Parodies of Art

On the wall in the king’s castle are several clever parodies of some famous paintings. Since awareness of famous art and artists is part of the art curriculum, a study of the 8 pictures that are easily identified could be fun. Give each group of students a photocopy of one of the parodies from the book. Then give them a photocopy of the original piece of art, its name, and artist.

Ask students to prepare a one page “poster” on their picture. The poster would include both illustrations along with several paragraphs on the artist’s life, and a paragraph on the piece of art. Why was it created, when, for whom, where it is now, what is it a picture of, etc.?

Explain that an art reference “joke” like this is a literary reference—it is hard to get the joke without background knowledge. You can even talk about how there are a lot of “in jokes” that young people would not get in a movie like Shrek, but that adolescents and adults have background knowledge to catch the reference.

The pictures in the book are:

  • Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci
  • Birth if Venus, Botticelli
  • Laughing Cavalier, Frans Hals
  • Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh
  • Seated Woman with a Wrist Watch, Pablo Picasso
  • George Washington, John Trumbell
  • Whistler’s Mother, James McNeil Whistler
  • Frederico de Montefeltro, Piero della Francesca

Compare the Tales

Working in pairs, ask students to generate the longest possible list of the characteristics the three stories they have in common—the original Rumpelstiltskin’s fairy tale, the version where Meredith marries Rumpelstiltskin instead of the ing, and the story of her daughter Hope. They should find at least the following qualities:

  • Rumpelstiltskin
  • Meredith
  • The King
  • The request to spin gold
  • The threat of death
  • The promise of marriage
  • Three tries
  • The palace

Students can also be asked to write their comparison when they have completed their list.

For 6 creative writing ideas, click Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter to download.

The Very Smart Pea and the Princess To Be

princessandpeaThe pea under the mattress writes a memoir of his attempt to help the prince find a “real princess.” Eventually the gardener’s girl who raised the pea lies on the twenty mattresses and he whispers, “You are very uncomfortable,” in her ear all night. She repeats this to the queen in the morning and marries the prince. The pea lives on in the royal museum.

Mini Grey, Alfred A. Knopf ©2003 ISBN 0-375-82626-2 (trade) and 0-375-92626-7 (library)

Fairy Tale Recipe Book

The pea is brought to the palace for a special recipe of Pea and Raspberry Jelly.  Why not use this as an opportunity to create a Fairy Tale cookbook?

First collect about six recipes from different cookbooks with different formats. Make copies for each group of 4 students and ask them to identify the critical elements of a recipe. They should come up with: title, ingredients list with the measurements needed, the temperature of the oven, step by step instructions, length of cooking at what temperature, preparing the pan (grease, lined, etc.), how many it serves, and so on.

Students can then brainstorm appropriate recipes for different fairy tales: Gingerbread Boy’s Gingerbread – Run Away Good, Goldilocks “Just Right” Porridge, Snow White’s Candied Applies, Cinderella’s “Fits Right” Pumpkin Pie, and so on.

You could create a class book of recipes where each page has: a picture of the cover of a sample fairy tale book, a 10 line summary of the story, and the recipe with its new Fairy Tale title. Suggestions for occasions to serve it would be great. Putting the finished bound book in the library can be great.

My Artefact

The pea becomes an “artefact” in the royal museum. The word comes from the Latin meaning “arte” (by hand) and “fact” (an object). An artefact is any human-made object which illustrates something about a culture. It is studied by archeologists and often displayed in museums. In fantasy games, an artefact is an object from a long lost culture that has magic powers. Your class constructs a “museum” of of artefacts from their year—posters of favourite songs, favourite commercials, favourite activities, school events, favourite foods, etc. Alternatively, a class museum can be constructed as each student brings an artefact that has associations for him/her and displays it with a poster explaining its “archeological meaning” from their life.

For 5 writing ideas, click Princess and the Pea to download.

The Diary of Hansel and Gretel

Diary of Hansel and GretelThe story of Hansel and Gretel as told by Gretel, in her own voice and with her point of view. A very clever pop-up story—and a potential model for student pieces.

Kees Moerbeek, ©2002, Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0-689-84602-9

Write a Point of View

Any of the fairy tales, or indeed a part of any novel, or a historic event, can be rewritten into the form of a diary of one of the characters. In this way, the character can be given his or her own peculiar qualities that can come our in the telling. In this story, Gretel is just a little acerbic. She doesn’t have much confidence, deservedly, in her brother Hansel but she loves him and saves him anyways.

Students can take a fairy tale and and rewrite it from the point of view of one of the characters. Cinderella;s story could be told from the point of view of one of the stepsisters, or one of the mice, to the fairy godmother. The fairy godmother, for example, might think that Cinderella is a little bit of a whiner—always calling for help and crying instead of helping herself.


Creating a Mock Newspaper

A mock newspaper story is a great time to teach how to write a newspaper story. Elements that matter are that the paragraphs are short with only one or two sentences. The lead paragraph contains the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the story. Quotes of in the middle. It should be able to cut from the bottom to fit in the newspaper.

Working in teams of 4–5, students can choose a fairy tale then write an entire front page of newspaper stories that might emerge from the fairy tale they have chosen.

For 5 writing ideas, click Diary of Hansel and Gretel to download.