A Wild Swan and Other Tales by Michael Cunningham, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu [in Library Journal]
If Bruno Bettelheim’s classic The Uses of Enchantment posited that fairy tales could help children understand their darkest fears, then Michael Cunningham’s (The Hours) reenvisioned Other Tales charges adults to challenge perspectives. Ten stories are turned every-which-way by the author, who deftly subverts with both droll charm and sardonic bite – from the last swan brother who couldn’t go back to being fully human and the witch who gets shoved in the oven by young psychopaths after they eat her candy house, to the giant who gets “jacked” and the little man who splits in two when his name is called.
Verdict: While listeners will miss out on Japanese artist Yuko Shimizu’s gorgeously detailed black-and-white illustrations, they’ll hear original music by actor/songwriter Billy Hough, who alternates narrating the stories with Lili Taylor; Taylor presents the more nuanced performance. Audiences in search of alternate tales à la Angela Carter and Gregory Maguire should listen in!
Readers: Young Adult, Adult