Once upon a time, there was a class full of very bright third graders. These little 8 and 9 year olds filed into school each day bursting with energy and enthusiasm. Sometimes, however, that energy and enthusiasm would lead them a teensy tiny bit astray. In times like these it would take a little magic to bring them back.
One day in early May the class discovered that they were about to embark on a new learning experience. Their teacher explained it to them during a Reading Workshop mini-lesson.
“Good morning Readers!” Mrs. Scannell greeted her third grade students.
“Good morning, Mrs. Scannell,” they replied.
“Yesterday we read a version of Cinderella, it had a lot of very old fashioned words in it. But today I am going to read another version, it has more “modern” words. Do you think you might like this one better? Thumbs up or thumbs down, show me what you think.” Mrs. Scannell noted that most of the children had their thumbs up although some were sort of waggling their thumbs, indicating they weren’t sure.
After reading the more “modern” version of Cinderella the class discussed the similarities and differences between the two stories. The overall opinion was that the stories were actually pretty much the same, except for lots of different words and some minor other changes. They also agreed that they enjoyed both stories.
“Well, let me tell you that both of these stories are ‘retellings’ of Cinderella. They pretty much stuck to the original story, would you agree with that?” Mrs. Scannell inquired.
The class responded in the affirmative.
“Well this afternoon, I am going to read you another Cinderella story. But this one is not going to be a retelling, it is going to be an adaptation. That means there are going to be some big changes. Here is the book I am going to read to you, it is called Prince Cinders by Babette Cole. Just look at the cover, can you tell what some of those big changes are going to be?”
“It’s a boy, not a girl!” the children all chimed.
“Well, the reason I am going to read this to you is because we are going to write our own adaptations of Fairy Tales, just like Babette Cole. Does that sound like something that interests you?” Mrs. Scannell asked enthusiastically.
“That would be hard!”
“We can’t do that!”
“That would take a long time!”
The class was not enthusiastic. They did not want to write Fairy Tale adaptations. They wanted to go outside and play for goodness sakes, not start another whole writing unit! Mrs. Scannell needed some help.
Later that day Mrs. Scannell gathered her bright if rather disinclined third graders to the rug. In her hands she was holding a little magic. She was holding the book, Prince Cinders by Babette Cole.
“Children, while you listen to this story I want you to pay careful attention to a few things. First, I want you to think about what big changes Ms. Cole made but more importantly, why she made them. Also I want you to listen for the important elements that you are learning all Fairy Tales have; a backstory (the children named them with their teacher), a first small moment, a problem, and a happy ending! Are you ready?
All heads nodded. All eyes looked up. The story began…
And Mrs. Scannell’s fairy godmother (aka Babette Cole in this instance) waved her magic wand and…
“Ooh, the girls all got replaced by boys!”
“And then they needed trousers because boys don’t wear slippers!”
“And the fairy wasn’t very good but that made Prince Cinders meet the princess!”
“I really liked that story!”
“That was really funny!”
And suddenly, adapted Fairy Tales became something within reach, something do-able, something fun and exciting.
And Mrs. Scannell’s adapted Fairy Tale writers wrote and wrote and wrote and lived happily ever after!