Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Old Tales

Step into a wintry forest where seven iconic fairy tales unfold, retold with keen insight and touches of humor.

There once was a frozen forest so cold, you could feel it through the soles of your boots. It was a strange place where some kisses broke enchantments and others began them.

Many said witches lived there — some with cold hearts, others with hot ovens and ugly appetites — and also dwarves in tiny houses made of stones. In this icy wood, a stepmother might eat a girl’s heart to restore her own beauty, while a woodcutter might become stupid with grief at the death of his donkey. Here a princess with too many dresses grows spiteful out of loneliness, while a mistreated girl who is kind to a crone finds pearls dropping from her mouth whenever she speaks.

With empathy and an ear for emotion, Emily Jenkins retells seven fairy tales in contemporary language that reveals both the pathos and humor of some of our most beloved stories. Charming illustrations by Rohan Daniel Eason add whimsical details that enhance every new reading.

Read an excerpt, below.

For educator resources, click here.




What People Say about Brave Red, Smart Frog: 

" Wise and sophisticated...Retellers of fairy tales face the eternal temptation of adapting old stories to fit modern expectations or adding contemporary snarkiness or in-jokes. Ms. Jenkins does none of this. Instead, with spirit and humanity, she infuses venerable tales such as “The Frog Prince” and “Toads and Pearls” with fresh vigor."   --The Wall Street Journal

"[Jenkins] puts a stamp on these stories that's all her own."   -- Booklist

"Fine, spare prose distinguishes these shrewd retellings of seven familiar tales."  -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Subtly untraditional, with lovely prose." —Kirkus Reviews


Read an Excerpt:

THERE WAS ONCE a frozen forest, cold as cold ever was. Snow blanketed the ground. The frost sparkled. The streams were iced, the bushes bare. The paths were so narrow, no horse could walk through. No woodcutters ever chopped anything down. People from nearby towns believed that vengeful sprites lived in the trees. They said witches lived inthe winter wood, as well — some with cold hearts, and others with hot ovens and ugly appetites — and also dwarves, immune to the cold and sheltering in tiny houses made of stones.

On one side of this frozen forest stood a castle. In it lived a queen who was unhappy. She was a warm person, a bright person. Her husband was chilly and dull. It had been a mistake to marry him. When their first and only daughter was born, the king named the baby Snow White. The queen would have preferred a name like Tulip or Sunshine.

It was not long after Snow White’s birth that our poor, warm queen caught a cold. It worsened and she died of it. Soon after that, the king married again. His new wife had walked out of the winter forest one day and charmed him with beauty like an icicle — sharp and slippery. She called herself January, and when she moved into the castle, she brought along nothing but an enchanted mirror.

This new queen felt invisible without a reflection of herself nearby. She spent hours staring into the mirror, touching her beautiful face, just to be certain she really existed. Every so often, she asked a question:

Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
Who is fairest of them all?

And each time, the mirror answered what January wished to hear:

You deserve an answer true,
There’s no one here, so fair as you.

And January was happy — or, at least, pleased enough with her lot.

Snow White didn’t bother with mirrors.