Cover of How to Fracture a Fairy Tale

How to Fracture a Fairy Tale

I was in my final year of college when the Rocky and Bullwinkle fractured fairy tale show was on so never watched it. (And my dorm had no tv.) The next year, living in New York City in 1960, working as an editor, again no television. By 1962 I was selling my own picture books and as far as I knew, invented my own kind of fractured fairy tales.

So–What is a FFT? It is a new and often humorous or nasty take on an old folk/fairy tale. Sometimes told from an alternate point of view (the bridge telling the Three Billy Goats Gruff), or a humorous version of Sleeping Beauty where the princess is a royal pain in the patootie, or an Appalachian Snow White set in the 1940’s, or…the tranformation possibilities are endless.

Over the 50 plus years I have been writing such stories, I have gathered quite a collection, a selection of which I put together in How to Fracture A Fairy Tale, adding a backmatter section where I explain the origins of each tale, and a poem of mine that refers to or uses the fairy tale’s motifs. (I am a well-published poet, you know–both children’s poems and adult poems.) The wonderful folks at Tachyon, a small sf/fantasy press, published it to be a companion to my earlier collection with them, The Emerald Circus, which won the 2017 World Fantasy award for a Story Collection.

The complete Tachyon collections:


  • Anne Izard Storytellers’ Choice Award
  • Top ten finalist 2019 Locus Awards

Around the Web:

What reviewers have said:

  • “Readers will find most of these stories relatable and powerful in their messages, and Yolen’s notes about each work’s origin are so interesting that they’re worth rereading in their own right.” — Publishers Weekly
  • “A pioneer of the modern fairy tale retelling, Yolen’s work is foundational. This latest collection records the template on which the genre was built.” — Foreword
  • “Fans will be delighted with the story notes and poems that cap off her fantastic collection of fairy-tale retellings and fractured legends.” — Booklist
  • “Each of the stories in this collection are light and fun making the entire collection a breezy read with genuine smile-inducing moments.”
  • “If The Emerald Circus provided an extensive overview of Yolen’s dialogue with many of her literary predecessors…[this book] serves as a useful and timely companion volume, demonstrating an equally astute and critical dialogue with the world’s folk traditions…an invaluable reminder of Yolen’s central tole in contemporary fantasy, and perhaps an equally invaluable starting point for readers daunted by the sheer volume and variety of her work.” — Locus
  • “Every page was a treat to read.” — The Book Lover’s Boudoir
  • “A master storyteller at her best. I’ve been a fan of Jane Yolen and fractured fairytales for years and this collection doesn’t disappoint.” — Chanda Hahn, New York Times bestselling author of Reign (An Unfortunate Fairy Tale)
  • “If you are looking for fairy tales with a twist, for stories that could be told at the fireside, for something on a cold winter night, look no further than this collection” —The Divine Nanny
  • “Having just closed the back cover on How to Fracture a Fairy Tale I can’t help but wonder how such levels of creativity are possible. Just how many stories can a single person carry with them at all times?” — Infinite Text
  • “This collection is Jane Yolen at her best, telling stories you’ve never seen before but have known all your life, and stories as familiar as your left hand that you barely recognize, spun from shadows and moonlight and breathed through silvered glass. This is magic.” —- Patricia C. Wrede, author of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles
  • “Yolen’s deftly-flowing prose highlights each unique perspective or imaginative speculation. Her tales, once fractured, don’t splinter—they sparkle.” —- Alex Flinn, author of Beastly and Beheld
  • “Yolen’s writing bone-deep sort of magical, where you find yourself unsure where the original fairytale ends and her interpretation begins. These stories got into my skin, and my head, and my heart—the perfect blend of beautiful and frightening.” -— Jackson Pearce, author of Cold Spell and Sisters Red
  • “How to Fracture a Fairy Tale is a fascinating exploration of how old stories we all think we know can become fresh and new and stunning in the hands of the masterful Jane Yolen. So many of Yolen’s stories here are like origami—with expert snips and twists and turns, she transforms the ordinary into fantastic art. This book can be read just for sheer pleasure or as a study for other writers in what is possible.” —- Margaret Peterson Haddix, author of The Missing series and The Shadow Children series
  • “No one can spin a tale as magical as Jane Yolen, full of beauty and wonder, and more than a few sharp thorns!” —- Jessica Day George, author of the Rose Legacy series and the Dragon Slippers trilogy
  • “Ever the master storyteller, Jane Yolen weaves and spins and fractures her way through a far-ranging, culturally diverse array of fairy-tales. Ranging from the comic (various famous fairy tale wolves kvetching in an Old Wolves Home) to the disturbing (a take on Cinderella involving incest) to the poetic (a lovely version of the Native American tale ‘The Woman Who Loved a Bear’), each tale is a finely crafted gemstone. Readers will be filled with wonder and delight, pain and joy, and may even be inspired to try their own hand at fracturing a fairy tale. I particularly loved Yolen’s explanatory ‘How I Fractured These Stories’ section at the end, identifying the origin tale, each one accompanied by a luminous poem.” -— Edith Pattou, author of West and East
  • “Deeply moving and poignant reimaginings of the tales many of us know and love.” -— Reader Fox and a Box of Books
  • “This collection of fractured fairy tales is a must-read for any lover of folklore. All of the stories are beautiful in their own way, and some are truly amazing. If you like fairy tales, especially retellings of them, you need to read this book.” —- Hazel G. Evans
  • “Yolen is a master of the fairy tale form – you’ll find her writing style both enchanting and enticing as you wind through these modern adaptations to discover her unique perspective. The collection is a masterpiece of fairy tale storytelling.” -— Reviews and Robots
  • “Overall, this was quite an eclectic collection, and it was wonderful “catching up” with Ms. Yolen again. Highly recommended for fans of fairy tale retellings!” -— Llama Reads Books
  • “…a well-chosen, well-balanced anthology.” — School Library Journal
  • “Her astonishing output (close to 370 children’s and adult books) has earned her a reputation as America’s pre-eminent reinterpreter of these familiar stories. Her latest collection of tales and poems could serve as an entertaining textbook on the topic.” — Chicago Tribune
  • “These stories no matter how twisted they are always make me happy and I love to see how close they stick to the original story or completely deviate from the original storyline and Yolen did a wonderful job sticking with the original story with a twist” — Lovely Librarian 5 stars