Trisha Speed Shaskan helped Winona Middle School students re-imagine fairy tales during their fractured fairy tales unit.
Photo by Michaela Gaffke.

Students shake up classic fairy tales



What if Goldilocks had a mean slam dunk? What if her hair were fake, and it were actually snakes? What if Goldilocks were an undercover cop — or a criminal?

The possibilities are endless, and these few were a result of the brainstorming Lisa Palkowski’s sixth grade language arts class did for an altered fairy tale for “Goldilocks.” The ideas were inspired by Trisha Speed Shaskan’s presentation on fractured fairy tales, a way of re-telling a story with a new angle.

Shaskan has written over 30 books for children. She travels around Minnesota speaking to students of all ages from kindergarten to high school. She is a Winona native and recently returned to her hometown to help sixth graders re-imagine some of their favorite tales.

“Kids are my audience,” Shaskan explained. “Visiting schools connects me to the audience. When I am writing stories, I like to go out and see the kids that I am writing for. I learn a lot from being around them; they inspire me.”

Shaskan came to give her workshop to the students during their fractured fairy tale unit. She read from a few of her books including “Seriously, Cinderella is so annoying!,” “Honestly, Red Riding Hood was Rotten!,” and “Punk Skunks.” Two are fractured fairy tales, rewritten from a different perspective. Cinderella’s step-sisters tell their version of the iconic poor-girl-meets-prince tale, and the big bad wolf shares his view of the classic girl in the red riding hood.

Shaskan had the students do writing exercises, getting their brains to churn out story ideas to show them story writing is not as hard as they thought.

“When you have students brainstorm, they can come up with a story just like that,” Shaskan said. “Asking them a question like ‘What if Goldilocks had a secret?’ — then the pieces start flying. They realize they can do that.”

Listening to Shaskan talk about fractured fairy tales planted seeds in the students’ brains, according to Palkowski.

“Writing is hard, but to present it in such a fun way really helps the students,” Palkowski explained. “They will come to the next class with great ideas!”

This visit was Shaskan’s second trip to the Winona Middle School. Palkowski hopes to have her back for next year’s fractured fairy tale unit.

Shaskan’s session was paid for by the PTA. To learn more about Shaskan and her work, visit


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