Cover image for Straw into gold : fairy tales re-spun
Straw into gold : fairy tales re-spun

Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2019.
Physical Description:
293 pages : illustrations
The tower and the bird or "Rapunzel" -- Straw into gold or "Rumpelstiltskin" -- The roses round the palace or "Cinderella" -- The fountain in the market square or "The Pied Piper of Hamelin" -- Chicken pox and crystal or "Snow White and the seven dwarves -- The prince and the problem or "The princess and the pea" -- Over the hills and far away or "Red Riding Hood and the piper's son" -- Things were different in those days or "The twelve dancing princesses" -- What I did in the holidays and why Hansel's jacket is so tight (by Gretel, aged 10) or "Hansel and Gretel" -- Sweet William by rushlight or "The Swan Brothers."
A collection of ten classic fairy tales, reimagined with fresh perspectives and unexpected twists, giving glimpses into happily, and not as happily, ever afters.
Added Author:


Material Type
Call Number
Children's Book Fiction Mckay
Children's Book Fiction Mckay
Children's Book Fiction Mckay

On Order



Award-winning author Hilary McKay reimagines your favorite fairy tales with humorous and heartfelt twists in this beautifully illustrated collection of short stories.

Imagine Hansel and Gretel's story from their teacher's point of view, when Gretel submits her report of, "What I Did in the Holidays, and Why Hansel's Jacket Is So Tight." Learn the story of how Rumpelstiltskin was used by a greedy girl who wanted to marry a prince in "Straw into Gold." Find out what was really underneath all those mattresses the unlucky princess had to sleep on in "The Prince and the Problem."

Award-winning author Hilary McKay brings a modern sensibility and inventive quirkiness to this beautiful collection of ten classic fairy tales, reimagining them with emotional depth and lighthearted humor. Each story is also accompanied by black and white illustrations and includes fresh perspectives with hilarious new twists.

Using details never revealed before, this sure-to-be treasured collection includes:
The Princess and the Pea
The Pied Piper
The Swan Brothers
Snow White
Red Riding Hood
The Twelve Dancing Princesses
Hansel and Gretel

Author Notes

Hilary McKay is the award-winning author of The Skylarks' War (which was a Boston Globe and Horn Book Best Book of 2018, and received three starred reviews), Binny Bewitched (which was a Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year and received two starred reviews), Binny in Secret (which received three starred reviews), Binny for Short (which received four starred reviews), and six novels about the Casson family: Saffy's Angel , Indigo's Star , Permanent Rose , Caddy Ever After , Forever Rose , and Caddy's World . She is also the author of Wishing for Tomorrow , the sequel to Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess . Hilary lives with her family in Derbyshire, England. Visit her at

Sarah Gibb studied at Saint Martin's School of Art (now Central Saint Martins) before completing her MA in illustration at Brighton College of Art. After landing regular spots in the Telegraph and Elle magazine , Sarah went on to illustrate Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole series, many classic children's fairy tales and even the Harrods Christmas window display. She lives in Wandsworth, London.

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Stepping assuredly into fantasy, McKay (the Casson Family series) displays ingenuity and wit in these 10 cunningly reconfigured tales, illustrated with Gibb's stunning silhouette artwork. The inventive array of narrators includes classic fairy tale characters as adults (whose identities are initially ambiguous), sharing their stories with subsequent generations. The present-day adventures of Rapunzel's two children frame her tale; Snow White reaches into her past to tell her granddaughter the story of a girl who escapes from her wicked stepmother to live with dwarfs (and offers to take her to visit the seven, still living in the forest); and the eldest of 12 dancing princesses, while recounting her girlhood nocturnal escapades, reassures her skeptical daughter that there "was a lot more magic about" in bygone days. Abundantly magical, the anthology also features new characters, among them the prim Fraulein, who teaches Hansel and Gretel and their off-puttingly "sticky" schoolmates, including Jack of beanstalk fame. In her introduction, McKay notes, "If ever I wrote a book with love, it is this one!" That is wonderfully apparent, and kids will read it in kind. Ages 8-12. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

In a collection pleasingly reminiscent of the work of E. Nesbit and Eleanor Farjeon, McKay (most recently Love to Everyone, rev. 11/18) retells ten familiar fairy tales from the European tradition, including Rumpelstiltskin, Cinderella, The Princess and the Pea, and The Swan Brothers. Each has its own McKay spin: Grandma Snow White tells her chicken-poxy granddaughter about her own terrifying childhood; Gretels new teacher reads her writing assignment, What I Did in the Holidays and Why Hansels Jacket Is So Tight (by Gretel, aged 10). Within the context of varied tellers and points of view, the gist of the classic stories remains largely intact, but McKay brings her own warm, insightful humor into the magical world. Earnest, scruffy, brave, greedy, or hard-working, her child characters are earthy and realistic. Gretel sucks her pencil until it leaves a damp ring of gray around her mouth, and Red Riding Hood kisses her favorite pig between the ears every night. Even the tensions of narrow-minded villagers and smug urbanites are as vital to McKays subtle magic as the classic plots. Gibbs delicate silhouette illustrations favor the pinch-waisted figures and curly up-dos of Perraults time, casting a sparkle of glamour over McKays pig-loving, lumpy-handed maidens and the round, soft blossom of a girl who is Rumpelstiltskins nemesis. deirdre f. baker January/February 2019 p 98(c) Copyright 2018. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Booklist Review

McKay delivers bedtime-worthy old yarns respun with fresh perspectives. Many fairy tale retellings end up stretching stories into entire novels, and it's refreshing to see a short story collection along the same lines. Add to that the artful language and lovely illustrations sprinkled throughout some in silhouettes, others with finer detail and soft shading and this book is a real delight. Here, a "forest lapped all around, a green ocean of trees"; there, the aroma of roses "rolled down the hill over the little river and bathed the town in perfume." For discerning readers, there's even a reference to hobbits. Anyone who loves fairy tales would be hard-pressed to put this down as they hear the story of the Pied Piper from the perspective of the town's old mayor, or the story of Snow White from someone who lived it. Of course, there's the titular tale of Rumpelstiltskin, a favorite of the author's. A thought-provoking take on familiar, well-loved stories, ideal for anyone who can't get enough fairy tales.--Kristina Pino Copyright 2019 Booklist



Straw into Gold The Tower and the Bird or Rapunzel The tower stood on a small rise in the middle of the forest. It looked a little like a squat, dark windmill without its sails, or the monstrous chimney of some cold furnace. It was built of dark stone; reddish black and smelling of iron. Even on the brightest of days it was a menacing presence. And at night it loomed like a deliberate insult inked against the stars. Grass and thornbushes grew at the base of the tower, but the deer from the forest did not graze there. Nothing ever moved on the tower mound except for the scuttling witch. The forest lapped all around, a green ocean of trees. Great carved oaks and airy maples. Tall, sweet-scented pines. Rust-red streaks of hurrying squirrels. Many bright birds. Jess and Leo always noticed birds because their mother loved them so much. "They are so brave," she said, "and so fragile, and so quick and bright." Jess and Leo preferred dogs for company. Dogs who would come on adventures all day, and sleep on your bed all night. Their father, the Prince, loved his old white horse. "But birds suit Mother," Jess and Leo agreed, and so they looked out for the first swallow and counted the storks' nests on the rooftops in the village, and they saw the bird in the cottage window. It was a small thing, green with a yellow head, hunched on its perch in a miniature cage. Three cats sat underneath, watching. The sight made Jess boil with indignation. "We should steal it," she said, "and set it free. It's cruel!" "We don't have to steal it," said Leo, reasonably. "There's other ways of getting things. Perhaps they would sell it." "We haven't any spare money. I suppose we could ask at home." Excerpted from Straw into Gold: Fairy Tales Re-Spun by Hilary McKay All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.