The best plots for children’s books have elements of fairy tales in them, and there is nothing to stop you taking one of your favourites and bringing it up to date.
Tip 11 – Modernising Cinders
You could try retelling the entire story from a modern point of view. The film, A Cinderella Story, follows the storyline of Cinderella set in a contemporary high school. Sufficient changes were made to make it a new and fresh story, but the theme of the true heiress ill-treated by her wicked step-mother and step-sisters remained unchanged.
Robin McKinley’s Beauty is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and Terry Pratchett’s fantasy novel for children, Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, is a hilariously funny (but at times harrowing) take on The Pied Piper of Hamelin.
The important thing is to use the storyline only as a blueprint, and to ensure you put your own individual slant on it. You couldn’t, for example, simply alter the names and settings and expect a publisher to show any interest.
One way of changing things around is to take a leaf out of Terry Pratchett’s book and turn the fairy tale into a parody. He has a talking cat travelling from town to town with his special band of rats, and is in cahoots with a young man called Keith.
This accomplice conveniently turns up, flute in hand, when the townsfolk want their municipality cleansed of Maurice’s rodents. All goes well until they reach the town of Bad Blintz, when Maurice realises the town is well named, because something very bad indeed is going on.
It is at this point, quite early in the novel, that Pratchett parts company with the fairy-tale and makes an entirely new story of it.
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