The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers is a book of gruesome tales from around the world. We are so pleased that author Jen Campbell was able to write a piece for us about her book!
I’ve always been fascinated by the history of fairy tales. You can trace some tales back hundreds (if not thousands!) of years; it’s like chasing the roots of an ancient tree deep into the ground. Folklorists have even created something called the Aarne-Thompson-Uther Index to catalogue fairy tales that share certain elements: poisonous apples, wicked sisters, impossible weaving tasks! I often go into schools to talk about the history of fairy tales, and help children write their own retellings.
Every storyteller brings their own agenda to the table; that’s why fairy tales are such a fun genre to play around with. Subversion is exciting, and fairy tales are a wonderful medium for exploring fear, too. Put something in a forest and look at it from every angle; put lived fears into fictional settings and problem-solve them. It’s what humans have always been good at.
My new book The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers is a collection of fourteen gruesome tales from around the world, retold by me and illustrated by Adam de Souza. They have all the gore of fairy tales of old: castles that scream in the night, a sister who wants to eat her family, and a boy who tricks a troll in the middle of the night. However, unlike a lot of the fairy tales that I grew up with, I removed the ‘disfigurement-villainy’ metaphor. These tales include positive representation of disability, and some queer representation, too. As a disabled person myself I longed to see this positive representation in the books I read as a child. The characters in The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers are flawed, and they do terrible things, but the terrible things they do are in no way related to the way they look. I hope that, as well as being a thrilling collection of creepy tales, The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers generates conversation about how we present characters to the world and why.
Please follow me, let’s get lost in the woods….
Jen Campbell is a bestselling author and disability advocate. She has written ten books for both adults and children. Her latest title is The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers which is primarily for 8-12 year olds, and any adult who enjoys a spooky tale or two.
The Sister Who Ate Her Brothers is written by Jen Campbell, Illustrated by Adam De Souza and is Published by Thames and Hudson.