Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Perrault’s Fairy Tales consists of eight short stories, modeled on French folktales, with morals appended to each. Five of the tales are almost universally familiar to English readers: “Sleeping Beauty” (“La Belle au bois dormant”), “Little Red Riding Hood” (“Le Petit chaperon rouge”), “Puss in Boots” (“Le Maître Chat: Ou, Le Chat botté”), “Cinderella” (“Cendrillon: Ou, La petite pantoufle de verre”), and “Tom Thumb,” sometimes called “Hop o’ My Thumb” (“Le Petit Poucet”). The others, “Blue Beard” (“La Barbe bleue”), “The Fairies” (“Les Fées”), and “Riquet with the Tuft” (“Riquet à la houppe”), are not as widely known in English.

Although scholars debate the actual portion of folk material in Charles Perrault’s collection, the stories generally resemble folktales in their brevity and matter-of-fact reporting of events. The action begins immediately, following the formulaic “once upon a time” (“il était un fois”) in all the tales except “Puss in Boots.” As with folktales, the stories emphasize action and dialogue, making them well suited for oral presentation. Although often called “fairy tales,” only four of the eight—“Sleeping Beauty,” “Cinderella,” “The Fairies,” and “Riquet with the Tuft”—feature fairies as characters.

While all the tales are widely read, not all have achieved equal popularity. In particular, readers...

(The entire section is 407 words.)