4 stars out of 5
As a card-carrying feminist carryover from the '60s, I've long been a proponent of concepts like gender equality and nonsexist language. That said, it's possible to cross the "roll up your pantlegs - it's too late to save your shoes" line at which political correctness becomes downright silly. Such is the case on occasion in this, a collection of well-known bedtime stories that have been revised for the modern generation. Still, it's amusing - and I got a kick out of all 11 stories that are in the version I read. Originally published in Great Britain in 1994, it's been updated and re-released, sent to me by our daughter-in-law who figured I'd enjoy it.
At just 89 pages, it can be breezed through in an hour or less - so for those enlightened individuals looking for a chuckle or two, I recommend it, taking into account the author's opening caveat: "However much we might like to, we cannot blame the Brothers Grimm for their insensibility to women's issues, minority cultures and the environment."
No, the good brothers did their thing long before Betty Friedan and the National Organization for Women, so the only thing left for the author to do is clean them up.There's no point in detailing any of the stories just because the book is so short, but I'll cite a few examples to give you a better idea of what's going on. In "Little Red Riding Hood," for instance, the woodsman becomes a "woodcutter" or, as he prefers, a "log-fuel technician."
In The Emperor's New Clothes, the boy shouts to the crowd that the emperor is naked. "No, he isn't," the crowd fires back. "The emperor is merely endorsing a clothing-optional lifestyle!"
Likewise, Cinderella's "sisters-of-step" are "differently visaged enough to stop a clock," and Cinderella has a "fairy godperson," a.k.a. "individual deity proxy."
And there you have it - at the very least, if you've set a goal for the number of books you hope to read this year, it's a quick and relatively enjoyable way to get there.
Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner (Amazon Digital Services LLC, November 2010); 89 pp.