Everyone loves an updated fairy tale, a rewritten myth. Ella Enchanted is one of the greatest children’s books of all time. Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles are rabidly popular. C.S. Lewis used the story of Cupid and Psyche as the basis of Till We Have Faces, and Shakespeare started with Pyramus and Thisbe for Romeo and Juliet.
And Wicked, if nothing else, gave the makeup artists of the world a chance to use up their green face paint.
But the realm of mythos is fraught with peril. The forests of Grimm are black. Here are a few stories that — I beg of you — should never be reimagined as YA novels.
The Red Shoes (Hans Christian Andersen)
A girl loves her red shoes — loves them so much that she wears them to church (an obvious no-no). The shoes take on a life of their own: the girl can’t stop dancing! They dance her into the dark woods! They’ve melded with her feet! “You’ll dance till you’re dead,” an angel tells her, “and even when you’re nothing but bones.”
Desperate, the girl asks an executioner to chop off her feet. He does so — yet the shoes (and feet-stubs) keep dancing.
I can’t even imagine how draconian high school administrators could fashion this into a morality tale. “Your skirts must be to your knees,” they’d say, “or we’ll cut off –” No.
The White Snake (Brothers Grimm)
Too weird to summarize. It involves, however, (a) eating white snakes, (b) receiving wisdom from eating white snakes, and (c) a goose who whines about a ring that’s stuck in its throat.
I can see the goose analogue being that annoying guy who never stops whining about his trig homework, but I am not sure how anything else would work.
Procne, Philomela, and Tereus (Ovid, et al.)
If you’re strong-stomached, go read the Wikipedia page.
Otherwise, all you need to know that the YA novel from this story would involve cheating, a traumatic break-up, and an even more traumatic revenge plan. And that plan would center around a burger. A burger made from the cheater’s dog.
In the final chapter, naturally, they would all turn into birds.