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Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales

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Beware -- these fairy tales are not for the faint of heart! Maisy creator Lucy Cousins shifts gears to retell her favorites with vivid, rousing illustrations.

Eight classic stories take on new energy as Lucy Cousins ramps up her artwork. In this bold, funny, and unflinching collection, the beloved author-illustrator retains all the emotion and humor of the original fairy tales: the heroes are courageous, the villains are horrible, and the children are tasty. With her sly, simple language and vibrant illustrations, even the scariest fiends become the stuff of shared hilarity and shivery thrills.

128 pages, Hardcover

First published August 11, 2009

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About the author

Lucy Cousins

412 books137 followers
Lucy Cousins, BA Honours in Graphic Design from The Faculty of Arts and Architecture, Brighton Polytechnic, postgraduate degree from Royal College of Art, is an author-illustrator of children's books. She is best known for her books featuring Maisy Mouse but she has also published other children's books including one about Noah's Ark. She is a mother of four and lives in Hampshire, England. Her own children are the inspiration for her books whose age range is 2-8.

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5 stars
156 (31%)
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192 (38%)
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114 (22%)
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33 (6%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 126 reviews
Profile Image for Betsy.
Author 8 books2,683 followers
July 29, 2009
I think the lesson of the day here is that I haven’t been giving Lucy Cousins enough credit. While you may not be immediately familiar with her name, you’ve probably run into Cousins’ most famous creation, Maisy, at some point in your travels. Maisy is a mouse. Maisy is cute. Maisy is beloved by the 0-4 set. You haven’t lived until you’ve worked a reference desk where desperate two-year-olds come up to you like knee high zombies demanding, in their too high voices, you entire section of Maisy-related literature. Now because Maisy is so cute and non-threatening I was not initially impressed when I first heard about Yummy. Ms. Cousins wants to try her hand at fairy tales? Fine. It’ll probably be something along the lines of that Mary Engelbreit Nursery Tales collection. An early child introduction to fairy tales but without any of the original violent aspects. A watered down version, I’m sure. Well slap me upside the head and call me Charlie because I could not have been more wrong. Yummy is, if anything, the veritable antithesis to Engelbreit. With a good-natured, downright jovial tone of voice, Lucy Cousins takes old-fashioned stories and makes them as gruesome and funny as she is able.

In this collection of fairy tales, Lucy Cousins has identified tales where eating is either enabled or denied depending on the worthiness of the hunger. Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Enormous Turnip, Henny Penny, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Little Red Hen, The Three Little Pigs, and The Musicians of Bremen are all covered. With her characteristic style and upbeat humor, Cousins retells each and every tale in as few words as possible, never leaving out any pertinent details. The result is a gorgeous collection big enough to be seen during storytime, but not so unwieldy that its readers will need any new arm muscles.

Each story has been broken down into its most essential parts. Words are big and bold, but never so simple that they don’t tell the full story. At 11.6” x 10.6” the book is comparable to a picture book in terms of size, but stands at about 121 pages rather than the standard 32. It’s the pictures, however, that really reinforce its child-friendly status. As with her Maisy books, Cousins employs thick black lines for all the images, and within those lines are bright, eye-popping colors. Yellows and blues and reds and greens, these primary colors get a workout under Cousins’ hand. She also has an interesting technique where she’ll write something in thick ink, blowing it up so that the words are much larger and messier than the neat typewritten text below. The gulp! of granny going down the wolf’s gullet is so big that a kid across a crowded storytime room could see it without difficulty.

At no point does Cousins give in to the modern adult desire to sugarcoat these stories either. I can’t tell you how frustrating I find it when a new version of The Little Red Hen will end with the hen sharing her bread with the no good lazy dog, cat, and pig. After reading through these tales once or twice it occurred to me that Cousins has also carefully avoided any and all princess tales. This isn’t too surprising. There’s a certain understanding amongst authors that for the youngest set stories of love and romance will be better appreciated when the kids are a bit older. It also means that when I get a squeamish six-year-old who wants pretty pretty princess tales, I won’t be alarming that same kid by handing them a book that also contains a decapitation or two. Mind you, the child might end up with the original stories associated with tales like Snow White or Cinderella (red hot shoes, anyone?) and that will be a whole new bucket of worms to contend with.

Lucy Cousins is British, but I did not expect these tales to vary much from their American incarnations. And yet a couple changes did make their way in just the same. “Chicken Little” was the most obvious. I was with her for Henny Penny, Turkey Lurkey, and Cocky Locky. Then she broke out the weirdo names. Ducky Duddles? Okay, that’s a little odd but I can go for it. Goosey Poosey? Hm. Normally that’s Goosey Loosey, but again, no biggie. But under no circumstances can I acquiesce to Foxy Woxy. Here in the States we call him Foxy Loxy. Whence the “L” I wonder? Which came first? And why does Goldilocks say that one bowl of porridge is too hot while the other is "too salty"? The book doesn’t exactly credit the author’s source material, so we are left to wonder about these cultural gaps.

Oh. I will have parents in my library complain. It is inevitable. There is a certain breed of parent that wishes that all fairy tale collections for kids could be penned by a certain Mr. Disney. They eschew the violence of the original stories and give their children good clean wholesome stories that don’t dip into any of this icky head-chopping, bird-eating nonsense. Even the James Marshall versions of these tales turn them off. And I can see their point, I guess. Perhaps they think that if they read such stories to their kids, their kids will think that violence is okay. But people, let us remember that these stories weren’t written just yesterday. Kids have been told the chopped up wolf version of Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs for hundreds of years. And anyway, its Cousins’ style that renders even the scariest tale kid-friendly. Sure the wolf may sometimes have red outlines to his teeth, but he’s essentially a comedic character. Both the tone and the look of the book will make sure that kids see these as amusing rather than disturbing stories. After all, what does the text say after the wolf falls in a pot of the pig’s boiling water? “Bye-bye, Wolf.” It’s just so merry, it’s hard not to find funny.

Going back to the choice of tales, Yummy makes a lot of sense when you consider that hunger is one feeling all kids can relate to. Love they sort of get, though hopefully they have enough of it that they never feel the lack. Sleep they get too, but how interesting is a sleep-based fairy tale (droopy spindle prone princesses aside)? But hunger? There's not a child alive who hasn't felt the need to feed. So collecting stories where characters want to eat is instantaneously recognizable to the small fry. Half the battle is won right there. Clever of Cousins to realize it.

Here’s the deal. If you are, or know, a parent who wants red-cheeked cherubs waltzing merrily through an innocent candyland of neutered fairy tales for the young, the aforementioned Mary Engelbreit Nursery Tales is the book for you. If, on the other hand, you want a funny introductory book to the real stories in all their raucous, scary, eclectic glory, Yummy is your best bet. Lucy Cousins has gone out of her way to give us an early reader collection of tales that will amuse parents as much, if not more, than kids. It’s not for everyone, so be warned of that now. But for those of you that appreciate it, your kids will be thoroughly, almost wrongly amused, even as you, the adult, cower away from it in fear.

Ages 3-7.
Profile Image for Dianna.
1,855 reviews33 followers
August 12, 2018
First off, why are fairy tales relegated to the non-fiction section of the library? Picture books are always in heavy circulation, and gems like this are doomed to be overlooked because of their location. I love fairy tales, and I think they're good for children to read: they touch some deep, primal portion of our soul that we don't even realize is there. So please stop hiding them.

Now that I've gotten that out of the way, I can tell you why I love this book so much. I am so tired of seeing fairy tales made politically correct, or softened to protect our innocent children. Let the wolf eat the pigs, I say! We don't need any of this nonsense about them running away and hiding. This book does things right. The stories are not softened at all: the wolf swallows Little Red Riding Hood and her Grandmother and then the huntsman chops him open and gets them out.

Another thing that I found interesting is that there is no moralizing at the end of the tales. They stand by themselves, and the reader can infer what he will. I like that.

Also the stories and illustrations were perfect and simple. This really is the fairy tale book to be reading to a young child. It's easy to tell what's going on, and the pictures are so expressive.

Last, this book is huge! It really makes an impact with its size and boldness. And I just have to say that I love the cover. The "yummy" comes from one story and the picture from another, but this is just perfect, and gives a great clue to the true nature of what is hidden inside.
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,083 reviews173 followers
July 4, 2019
Lucy Cousins - perhaps best known for her series of picture-books about Maisy the mouse, intended for the very young child - turns her attention to the world of fairy-tales in this outsized collection, which was chosen by The New York Times as one of the "Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2009." Here the reader will find seven tales - from Little Red Riding Hood to The Musicians of Bremen - all pared down from the original, and presented in an easy-to-read format, with huge text (on a huge page), and eyepoppingly colorful illustrations - a Cousins trademark. The result is a picture-book anthology that will work very well, for the youngest children.

Unfortunately, I can't say it worked very well for me, as an adult fairy-tale lover. I read many, many fairy and folk-tale adaptations (sometimes multiple adaptations/retellings of the same tale), because I'm always interested in the way different authors and artists interpret the same story. Naturally, I have preferences, both as it concerns the text, and the illustrations. I tend to dislike abridged versions of these classic tales, as I think they lose so much, when shortened. I also, I confess, prefer a less cartoonish style of artwork. Needless to say, Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales just didn't do it for me.

That said, I think Cousins' book succeeds at what it sets out to do - the creation of a fairy-tale collection that will hold the attention of the youngest child - so my lack of enthusiasm is more of a commentary on who I am as a reader, than on the book's actual quality, and I would recommend it to anyone seeking such a volume, for their children. I did appreciate the fact that, despite the abbreviated versions presented, Cousins kept some of the disturbing elements (the Wolf gobbling down Granny, for instance), so my reaction wasn't all negative. In the end, I guess I'm just not the right audience for this one.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
4,555 reviews177 followers
November 14, 2009
Bright and bold, Lucy Cousins (of Maisy fame) retells eight of her favorite fairy tales, and not the Disneyfied versions, either. Heads are chopped, children are gobbled, and Turkey Lurkey most definitely gets eaten. Delicious shivers! I can't even recall how I first heard fairy tales as a child, but these are so simple and true to the story that I almost found myself whispering along. There are no extra words, but the pacing and the cumulative plots are perfect. So is the extra-large format.

Artistically, I love how much expression Lucy Cousins is able to give her simple, childlike paintings. The three bears' faces are priceless. Every animal wears cute clothes that look like they came out of a dress-up box. They're painted in flat profile, like Egyptian figures (Tomie de Paola does this sometimes), and they have a fresh, unedited quality, like Maira Kalman's work, or Quentin Blake's. I think much of this is due to the black outlines (see also Betsy Lewin and Georg Hallensleben).

Art nerdiness aside, I would love to give or receive this book as a gift. As a child, I never minded the violence. I cooked and ate a lot of imaginary enemies in my games, and I bet kids still do. Great book!
Profile Image for Janessa.
211 reviews13 followers
March 11, 2010
Everything about this book is delightful. Yummy is the perfect title. The illustrations are bright, colorful, and engaging. The selection of stories is a refreshing mix of the familiar stand-bys my kids already love(Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs) and less-known tales that are quickly becoming favorites (The Bremen Town Musicians, Henny Penny). All my children enjoy the stories. The older kids read them to the younger kids, and then the younger kids bring the book to Mom and Dad for repeated readings. The real mastery of the book is in the tone it establishes. Cousins captures the original spirit of Grimm in scenes like the woodcutter's rescue of Grandma and Little Red Riding Hood. In her version the wolf gobbles up both Grandma and the red-cloaked heroine, and the woodcutter rescues them by lopping off the wolf's head. The bright colors and simple shapes of the illustrations diffuse any sense of real danger or violence, and instead offer children a silly release of fear toward their own imagined villains and monsters -- those that crowd the corners of their closets at night.
Profile Image for Michelle.
333 reviews
September 5, 2009
I LOVED it! Lucy Cousins' trademark illustrations are bold, colorful and kid-friendly. I enjoyed her re-tellings of these well-known fables. A note of caution for those who prefer kinder, gentler versions of these timeless tales: Cousins' re-tellings are non-pc, no nonsense, and truer to the originals in which mean wolves get chopped in half and those silly pigs get eaten! This book was wickedly fun! :)I want it for my junior library @ home! :)
Profile Image for Mary.
2,479 reviews11 followers
May 12, 2015
Lucy Cousins' vividly bold illustrations work very well with this collection of classic fairy tales. The eight stories are traditional retellings yet are told in a compelling & comforting storytelling style. Warning: although the illustrations are brightly colored & cartoonish, the stories have traditional endings, for example the wolf eats pig 1 & pig 2 and pig 3 eats the wolf for supper. This large picture book is perfect for group sharing.
Profile Image for Jamil.
638 reviews48 followers
October 14, 2009
We were talking about this book at work today, wondering if lil kids, fans of Maisy, would be freaked out by all the images of head-chopping, grandmother-eating, wolf-boiling...

I think this would be a great book to have kids make up their own versions of these classic fairy tales just based on the illustrations, you know, fractured fairy-tales style.
Profile Image for Boni.
Author 8 books70 followers
August 24, 2009
I adore this book! I love the size, the straightforward tellings... and the ILLUSTRATIONS! (swoon) One gorgeous book. I think this is a must-have if you want your child to be familiar with fairy tales.
Profile Image for Melly Fischer.
31 reviews1 follower
September 8, 2009
Lucy Cousins (Maisy) makes no attempt to sugar-coat children's classics in this absolutely gorgeous collection. Wolves are boiled, beheaded, and eaten. The Little Red Hen does NOT share in the end. And she illustrates the Enormous Turnip in really sweetly. LOVE it.
Profile Image for Jess.
2,434 reviews67 followers
July 11, 2017
July 2017 - while there are versions of each story with more fabulous illustrations, these are charming and straightforward and really well suited to a preschool audience, especially when combined with Cousins' concise storytelling. I tell some of stories, like The Little Red Hen, at storytime, and this is an even more succinct version that I might try to adapt/memorize. We read it straight through the first time, and then at bedtime I told Ben to pick just two stories so we could fit in a variety of books - he thought carefully and then chose at least four of them! He's clearly a fan. This would be a great one to own and dip into.
20 reviews
July 24, 2017
This traditional literature collection includes eight classic fairy tales: Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Enormous Turnip, Henny Penny, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Little Red Hen, The Three Little Pigs, and The Musicians of Bremen. The author puts a twist on the ending of each story to make it exciting. The illustrations are bright, colorful, child-like paintings which help the reader understand the text. This is a great book for beginning readers! Format: Picture Book.
19 reviews
May 7, 2017
Author Lucy Cousins of the book "Yummy" uses vibrant colors that illuminate the pages for the reader of characters from eight different childhood fairy tales of her liking. From Henny Penny, The Three Little Pigs to The Enormous Turnip some of which refresh my old childhood memories as well. I absolutely love this book and my 6-year-old granddaughter and 7-year-old grandson ask repeatedly to turn back to see the pictures and to hear the stories over and over again.
20 reviews
July 21, 2017
Cousins' illustrations do not have much detail but they are so perfect for this kind of book. This traditional book give a spin off of eight popular fairy tales including Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs. Each fairy tale comes with a new, unexpected ending and the simple but witty language make it fun for all ages. Some language appears bigger to show yelling, so the tone is varied throughout. The text is accompanied by bright colors with black, broad lines throughout the book, making it a perfect choice for read-alouds.
Format: Picture book
Profile Image for Shannon.
467 reviews16 followers
March 8, 2017
This is a nice collection of classic fairy tales. My only problem with it is how on most pages, some of the words are written in very large, bold black letters. It's problematic because they are not placed on the page in a way that they fit properly into the story, and they are repeated in smaller text with the rest of the story. It's distracting and could be confusing for younger readers.
20 reviews
July 24, 2017
This traditional fairy tale book provides us with a fresh and edgy look on eight classic fairy tales. The illustrations within this book are bold, vivid, and drama revealing. Cousins brings these classic fairy tales back to life through her sense of adventure and exciting style of illustrations.
December 4, 2017
Yummy is a traditional picture book that includes eight short classic children's stories that are exciting and humorous. Cousins uses vibrant, bold illustrations to capture the scary wolf in Little Red Riding Hood and The Three Little Pigs. This book is a collection of well-known fairy tales that show the different emotions that each character takes on throughout different story lines.
75 reviews
December 3, 2018
Genre: Fantasy
Grade Level: K-2

"Yummy: Eight Favortie Fairy Tales," by Lucy Cousins is a great book field with condenst versions of fairytales we all know. This book would be great for students that kind of know the different classic fairytales, but are not quite ready for the full version. This book would also be great for just introducing different fairytales to a class.
Profile Image for Kitty.
81 reviews
June 20, 2019
Had to skip Little Red Riding Hood and Three Little Pigs with the Boyo (for now). Shows the woodcutter chopping the wolf's head off and the other wolf in the third pig's cauldron--humorous but not the right material for Boyo at the moment. The other stories were what you'd expect with fun illustrations.
Profile Image for Bethe.
5,792 reviews51 followers
January 27, 2021
5 stars. Oldie but goodie collection of 8 favorite folktales, not all with a happily ever after. Lively and bright characteristic Lucy Cousins illustrations. Perfect for a review of classic tales for introduction or comparison to a fractured fairy tale version.
Profile Image for Steph.
4,358 reviews45 followers
February 28, 2018
I love this book so much! YUMMY illustrations and fun retellings of the best fairy tales!
Profile Image for Freddie D.
898 reviews3 followers
December 3, 2020
Some of these are pretty brutal!
But I adore Lucy Cousins' artistic style.
Profile Image for Cara Byrne.
3,045 reviews18 followers
January 6, 2018
Cousins' illustrated collection brings her own unique artistic style to classic tales, but it wasn't the best fit for my 3-year-old.
February 19, 2017
In Lucy Cousins, Yummy:Eight Favorite Fairy Tales, these classic tales come to life with her simple text and engaging, colorful, and vibrant illustrations. The stories are short and simple, but with the traditional classic plots. The pictures are large with bright colors, and important parts of the story are emphasized with large print, creating more emotion within the characters. I think this is a good book to read to children PK and up, and I love that these classic stories are found in one big book.
Profile Image for Brook.
233 reviews
July 6, 2010
I admit I would never have picked up this book if it wasn't for the rave review on books4yourkids.

I'm glad I did.

This is the perfect introduction to fairy tales for Skyler. Short, funny, bright, with just enough head-chopping to keep youngsters engaged. I have read several of the tales to Skyler more than once and I can read several at a time. It is easy to read and I am amazed that Cousins was able to simplify the stories so much while keeping all the essential parts (and adding a dose of humor).

A word about the book itself. It's a big book with wonderful thick, glossy pages. I can easily read this to all the kids (compared to the Jane Ray version--which is more of a one-on-one read-aloud size).

Warning: This is very different from the Mary Engelbreit Nursery Tales I recommended earlier. When the wolf eats grandmother up her legs stick out of his large open jaws, the text above reads, "Gulp."

"Here's the deal. If you are, or know, a parent who wants red-cheeked cherubs waltzing merrily through an innocent candyland of {changed} fairy tales for the young, the aforementioned Mary Engelbreit Nursery Tales is the book for you. If, on the other hand, you want a funny introductory book to the real stories in all their raucous, scary, eclectic glory, Yummy is your best bet. Lucy Cousins has gone out of her way to give us an early reader collection of tales that will amuse parents as much, if not more, than kids. It's not for everyone, so be warned of that now. But for those of you that appreciate it, your kids will be thoroughly, almost wrongly amused, even as you, the adult, cower away from it in fear."--Amazon reviewer
Profile Image for Kate.
701 reviews18 followers
December 17, 2015
The illustrations were super adorable, because Lucy Cousins. These well-known fairy tales are still pretty gruesome though...the big bad wolf eats little red riding hood and her grandmother and gets his head chopped off for it. I especially liked it when Big Billy Goat Gruff butted the troll into the river and then the three goat brothers ate so much that they could barely walk home. I feel you, goats. That's me after every visit to all-you-can-eat sushi. I also love every iteration of Chicken Little/Chicken Licken/Henny Penny because all the animals names are slightly different and they always make me giggle. This one had Goosey Poosey and Ducky Daddles. Ducky Daddles!!

Also, unrelated, wikipedia has just informed me that Disney made a WWII propaganda film in which Foxy Loxy uses knowledge gained from Mein Kampf to trick the birdies on the farm into leaving so he can eat them. They changed the title of the book to "Psychology" (lol and also ugh) but the passages he reads aloud are still from Mein Kampf. He manipulates the masses by targeting the least intelligent (Chicken Little) and "undermining the faith of the masses in their leaders". And then he KILLS THEM ALL. I don't know what the moral is supposed to be but I guess it's something like don't listen to the least intelligent among you because they are easily manipulated by the enemy"?? ANYWAY this has nothing to do with the book but now you all know slightly more about American propaganda.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 126 reviews

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