Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? This mantra from The Brothers Grimm‘s masterpiece is widely familiar across the world. “Snow White“ is one of the best-loved children‘s bedtime stories that left many little girls dreaming of a prince charming and a perfect “happily ever after”. But, mirror, is this, in fact, the message modern kids need to be taught from an early age? This question crossed one father’s, Stephan Kalinski’s, mind while reading good night stories to his baby daughter Lena, now five.

“Stephan really struggled to find fairytale books to read to his children that didn’t reinforce negative stereotypes about the world. Some of the great children’s stories, which have been enjoyed for generations, are stunning on the surface but have slightly darker undertones about gender and equality. He found that his daughter would be rewarded for her beauty and that most main female characters were ‘damsels in distress.’ He wanted to read his children the traditional stories he enjoyed from his childhood, but found himself editing them every night,” the co-author of the book, Iain Botterill, told Bored Panda.

Fed up with outdated premises in the original, the 38-year-old dad of two took a classic 19th-century fairytale and gave it a completely different meaning. After adding some clever twists to the plot, a story of a beautiful yet naive and helpless princess transformed into an empowering tale of a brave heroine. This idea evolved into Fairy Tales Retold with a powerful message that “Changing one word can change everything!” and their first modernized fairytale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

More info: Facebook | fairytales-retold.com | Instagram

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“Meanwhile, I was (still am!) working with kids across some challenging schools in London as a teacher. When Stephan chatted to me about the challenges of reading to his children, it reminded me of experiences I’d had with students at school. There was a brilliant 15-year-old girl who secretly wanted to be a pilot but gave up on it because it was a ‘boy’s job,’ the sight of a PE teacher struggling to convince once-keen 16-year-olds to play sports as it “made them look sweaty and ugly,” and the subtle, often instinctive, comments and beliefs about boys & girls having different roles in society,” Iain Botterill continued.

Fairytales have a powerful impact on young children who have just started to understand and experience the world. The determined authors took the opportunity to adjust the story with values today’s kids should be taught about. Instead of falling into traditional gender roles of patriarchy such as depending on males, cooking and cleaning, their version of the protagonist is portrayed as courageous, intelligent and adventurous. They also add ethnic and gender diversity through dwarf characters and a lesson of compassion and living your own dreams.

“We’re incredibly excited about the book and the message it’s trying to spread. Through the new story and creating new characters, we’ve tried to keep the spirit of the traditional tale with modern morals we’d love to share with our children.”

Once upon a time long, long ago, a King and Queen ruled over distant land… The Queen was kind and vise, and the King – adventurous and just

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There was, however, one sad part of the King and Queen’s life – they longed for a child, but didn’t have one… until their dream came true

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The Queen gave birth to a baby girl with eyes as blue as the sky, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony – Snow White

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But then a devastating tragedy happened – a mysterious illness took the Queen’s life

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The King took care of his little Princess, and although it was hard being a single parent, he managed quite well

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One day, the King fell in love again. The new Queen valued bravery the most and sought to be the bravest in the land. But the thirst for power has planted a seed of jealousy and wickedness in her heart

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Over the years, the Queen noticed how brave Snow White was becoming, such as the time when she overcame her fear of heights and climbed the tallest tree

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Soon after Princess’ 7th birthday, the Queen asked her magical mirror, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the bravest of them all?” The mirror said that Snow White is a thousand times braver than she is and Queen’s rage escalated

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Blinded by the anger, the Queen hatched a wicked plan to take down Snow White and ordered a huntsman to bring her heart

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But the little Princess deceived the huntsman and escaped to the great magic forest

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Snow White came across the tiny house of the seven dwarfs, who have traveled world to mine and search for treasure

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She met Sabrina, Akashi, Shakti, Leila, Egbo, Li and Thiago from the 7 corners of the world

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The dwarfs, amazed by Snow White’s story, welcomed her into their house and asked to teach them how to read, write and draw in exchange

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Meanwhile, the Queen found out that the Princess is still alive, and stunned by bubbling jealousy, she decided to finish her plan

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She made a poisonous apple so beautiful that no one was able to resist it, and disguised herself as an old widow

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She convinced Snow White to share a fresh apple, and once the Princess took a little bite – she instantly collapsed to the ground

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10 years had passed, when an adventurous prince asked for shelter in the dwarfs’ tiny house

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The dwarfs told him about their beloved Princess who lay in the glass coffin at the top of the mountain, and her tragic story

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Fascinated with her bravery, gold heart, and intelligence, the young Prince wanted revenge

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The Prince arrived to have one last look at Snow White when he stumbled and fell against the coffin, which forced the poisoned apple from the Princess’ throat and she could breathe again!

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He offered to seek revenge together, to what Snow White replied with compassion that she’s sorry for the Queen’s jealousy and unhappiness, and that this is the biggest punishment she can get

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Snow White’s miracle shattered the mirror into a thousand pieces. All the Queen’s powers dissapeared, and she spent the rest of her life hiding in the castle

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The crowd celebrated this day by singing and dancing, and Snow White became close friends with the Prince

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Snow White decided to fulfill her biggest dream of discovering the seven corners of the world, because she’d learned that life is too short

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She invited her new friend, the Prince, to join the adventure

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And that, dear children, is the real story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

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Creators of the book: Stephan Kalinski, Iain Botterill, and Claudia Piras

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A revamped Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs was released after 6 months of work as a beautiful hardback book uniquely illustrated by Claudia Piras complemented by an audiobook with an original score composed by Polish composer David Alleckna and sound designed by Rene Corbett from New Zealand. “While holding down our own jobs, it’s been a hectic ride and we bootstrapped through a group of great friends from all over the world,” said Botterill.

The audiobook is out now on Soundcloud, iTunes & Spotify.