Fairy Tales with a Modern Twist

 In Lessons and Ideas, Secondary
EMS30 Unit of Study:Children’s Media
Sharon Tsang – Agincourt Collegiate, Toronto, Ontario


A fairy tale is a fictional story that usually features folkloric characters, such as fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, witches, giants, and talking animals, as well as enchantments, such as magic spells or charms.  Fairy tales usually contain far-fetched events that make up the story.

For every fairy tale or story told, there exists another version of that same story when told through another’s point of view or in a new context.  In class, we have discussed the classic fairy tale of The Three Little Pigs, read the modern tale of The True Story of The Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, and watched the film Hoodwinked.


A)  Begin by selecting ONE (1) classic fairy tale from the list below:

  • The Princess and the Pea
  • Rapunzel
  • Rumpelstiltskin
  • Sleeping Beauty
  • The Ugly Duckling
  • The Elves and the Shoemaker
  • The Emperor’s New Clothes
  • The Little Match Girl
  • Hansel and Gretel

Rewrite the story with the same characters and basic story concept but add modern twists to the story.  Use contemporary settings, language, and character types, but generally stick to the original plot and theme.

B)  Keep in mind the following characteristics of fairy tales and incorporate them as you write your modern version:

  1. Positive or negative magical occurrences take place.
  2. There are fantasy, make-believe, or supernatural characters, such as fairies or witches, magical people, talking animals, or live objects.
  3. Story begins and ends with special words ‘ ‘Once upon a time’ ‘Long, long ago,’ or ‘And they lived happily ever after’.
  4. Things or events often happen in, or character come in “threes” or “sevens’.
  5. There are often have happy endings, based on the resolution of the conflict or problem.
  6. A lesson or moral value is taught, or a message or value is conveyed.

C)  Select any TWO (2) options listed below, and incorporate the changes in your fairy tale rewrite.  To explain the options, I will use the story of Little Red Riding Hood.

Option 1:  Change the point of view/perspective.
Fairy tales are invariably told in third person.  What about trying first person?  Whose perspective will you use ‘ Little Red? The Wolf?  The Woodsman?  Granny?

Option 2:   Change relationships between characters.
Relationship changes will inevitably result in plot changes.  For example, the Wolf and the Woodsman are co-conspirators out to kidnap Little Red.  Or the Woodsman is an undercover police officer who has been assigned to protect a key witness, Little Red, in her Granny’s murder trial.

Option 3:  Change the genre.  Move the story from the genre of fairy tale to another genre (e.g., action adventure, romance, horror, science fiction, thriller, crime, fantasy, western, mystery, teen comedy, etc.  Ensure the writing style matches the genre.  For example, a hilarious retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears story can be written using the crime/detective genre and being told through the point of view of the crime scene investigator (CSI) who investigates the Bears’ house to find evidence to convict Goldilock’s for breaking and entering, trespassing, and theft.

Option 4:  Change the ‘place’.  Place can be physical, cultural, socio-economical, or time period.  You need not select more than one of the following.

  • Physical: Move the story from the woods to somewhere else. Will you set the story on a beach?  In a shopping mall?  On a cruise ship? At an amusement park?  In a coffee shop?  How does this change the ingredients of the story?
  • Cultural: Place the story in another culture (e.g., Indian, Chinese, Egyptian, Southeast Asian, Australian, Spanish, Native, etc.)
  • Socio-economic: Are the characters upper-class?  Working-class?  Middle-class?  Poor?  Social outcasts?
  • Time period: Revise the story to place it in modern times; for example, characters might use computers, talk on cell phones, watch current TV shows, etc.

D)  Use your imagination to retell the story.  Write consistently in past tense and in either first person OR third person, depending on whose point of view you select.  Avoid introducing new characters, but you may add one if needed.  This written assignment challenges you to be uniquely creative in your writing by retelling the story within a maximum of THREE (3) typed, double-spaced pages in size 12 Times font.   Pay attention to your diction (choice of words) and be concise ‘ say more with fewer words ‘ in your writing.

/15 Marks
While you are working on your brainstorm, conference with the teacher.  Your brainstorming ideas must be approved by the teacher before you begin writing.


Fairy Tale Brainstorm Questions  /15 Marks

1. Which TWO (2) fairy tales are you considering?

2. Now select one.  Which did you select to rewrite and why?

3. The title of my fairy tale with a modern twist is . . .

4. Which common fairy tale characteristics will you incorporate into your writing?

5. What is the moral of, or lesson told, in the story?

6. Which two options will you incorporate?

7. Provide details of the changes you will make.

8. Who are the characters in your story?

9. Determine the character (point of view) from which the story will be told.

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