Fairy tales, fairly told

Kitty Mervine is trying to raise money to produce a book of fairy tales for children. This is a cause worth supporting, because these are stories told from a skeptical perspective.

Take a look at the announcement, and read the sample story — chip in if it’s a cause you think worth supporting.


  1. says

    I think that Penguins of Madagascar has a pretty good spin on magic. Stupid lemur “king” Julian totally believes in his superiority and kingship based on his “relationship” with the “sky spirits,” while the penguins are savvy and capable (oh, plenty of blind spots, etc., to make it interesting) and, by and large, scientific. Mad science, sure enough, but science and logic rule.

    Whether or not kids get the message I don’t know, but it’s a pretty good message about how thinking reasonably and scientifically wins out over Julian’s mindless superstitions.

    Glen Davidson

  2. Alex the Pretty Good says

    That certainly is a good idea. It’s nice to have some choice beyond “The Emperor’s New Clothes” (The only real skeptical fairy tale I know of)

    Okay… there’s always Scoobie Doo but when it’s story-time, kids should be lying in bed, not sitting in front of the telly.

  3. greensageb says

    You’re asking people to donate money so that other people can write a book? Wouldn’t such a book sell itself if it’s any good? If I see it at Barnes and Noble and I like it, I’ll be happy to donate then…by buying it. I expect that there would then be recommendations for the book all over FtB and goodness knows there are enough people here who would buy it.

    At least you’re not soliciting donations for your blogging here, like another prominent FtB blogger has recently.

  4. says


    “the 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins” by Dr. Seuss is a wonderful parable of resistance to authority, and parallels skepticism quite nicely. Come to think of it, Dr. Seuss for the most part kicks ass.

    I’d also recommend the Grimm tales, in as original a form as possible. They are often dark, but they can serve as a springboard for discussions about what is real, what belief is, what is dangerous in the world, and what is not.

  5. says

    That certainly is a good idea. It’s nice to have some choice beyond “The Emperor’s New Clothes” (The only real skeptical fairy tale I know of)

    The Headless Horseman?

  6. flapjack says

    My favourite in the sceptical picture book genre is Baa Baa Smart Sheep
    The potted synopsis [spoilers alert]

    is that Baa Baa Smart sheep is bored one day and when Quirky Turkey comes along he decides to tell quirky turkey that he’s selling smart pills.
    Quirky Turkey is initially skeptical as they look and smell a whole lot like sheep droppings.
    Baa Baa smart sheep manages to persuade Quirky Turkey that they are in fact smart pills and will make him more intelligent, and gets him to part with his cash.
    Quirky turkey gobbles down the pills which naturally turn out to be sheep shit. Quirky Turkey spits them out.
    When he complains that they are actually sheep shit, Baa Baa Smart Sheep tells him “see, you’re 10 times smarter already”!
    The Stinky Cheese Man is also quite good on this, especially “The princess and the bowling ball”, an update on the princess and the pea.
    In this version of the classic tale the prince is hacked off with his parents for constantly scuppering his chances with the opposite sex with their “real princesses can feel a pea under 17 mattresses” routine so he substitutes a bowling ball when his folks aren’t looking and they all live happily (if not especially honestly) ever after.

  7. davroslives says

    greensageb, you do understand that there isn’t a magical book fairy that prints books, right? As in, you need to pay rather large sums of money to get the materials together, print the books, and distribute them?

    Since I doubt B&N shelves much in the way of self-published material, the first thing an author needs to do (yes, before writing the book) is find someone willing to back it, a publisher or other money source. It’s only THEN that they can start the process. Maybe a self-publishing author might catch the attention of a publisher if they sell well, but they won’t be selling at B&N or Borders. It’ll be on the internet, more than likely. And if they do that, they still need cash to get the book produced.

    They are looking for seed money to start this long, annoying process. That’s all.

  8. greensageb says


    I think that I do understand. You call it self-publishing; it is also called vanity publishing. Worked for Joyce, right? It is one way to go, but unlike your mischaracterization, self-publishing is neither the only nor the most common method. I especially liked your “magical book fairy” quip; it was as if my opposition to this pan-handling was somehow akin to theistic delusion.

    Please note that I do not oppose the book concept. I give readily that such a book (if of good quality) would rightfully be touted all over FtB, and that many people here (yours truly included) would buy it.

  9. naomibaker says

    The last book Kitty created was *given* out to children attending CSI’s summer camp. She’s not doing this to sell the books or make money, she does them to make as donations to skeptical camps or other events for children, to help teach them about critical thinking.