REVIEW: Politically Correct Bedtime Stories


“There once was a young person named Red Riding Hood who lived with her mother on the edge of a large wood. One day her mother asked her to take a basket of fresh fruit and mineral water to her grandmother’s house – not because this was womyn’s work, mind you, but because the deed was generous and helped engender a feeling of community. Furthermore, her grandmother was not sick, but rather was in full physical and mental health and was fully capable of taking care of herself as a mature adult.

     So Red Riding Hood set off with her basket through the woods. Many people believed that the forest was a foreboding and dangerous place and never set foot in it. Red Riding Hood, however, was confident enough in her own budding sexuality that such obvious Freudian imagery did not intimidate her.”

Hark! Bedtime stories that aren’t sexist, racist, culturalist, nationalist, regionalist, ageist, lookist, sizeist, speciesist and so very politically incorrect in the slightest. Or at least tries not to be according to James Finn Garner’s introduction to his book ‘Politically Correct Bedtime Stories’.

And this isn’t even an exaggeration on the author's part as every potentially bias word or phrase has been changed in Garner’s extremely funny collection of classic bedtime stories.

In Garner’s stories, Rapunzel’s father is not poor but “economically disadvantaged”, Snow White is not beautiful but “not at all unpleasant to look at”, just as the usual wicked witch isn’t actually wicked at all, but “kindness impaired. (This is not meant to imply that all, or even some, witches are that way, not to deny this particular witch her right to express whatever disposition came naturally to her. Far from it, her disposition was without doubt due to many factors of her upbringing and socialization, which, unfortunately, must be omitted here in the interest of brevity.)”

Yup – no potential bias here!

I like to think I’m a passionate and dedicated feminist.

Don’t freak out just yet – I just enjoy indulging in some equal rights from time to time, as society hasn’t intended for me.

And although I do not doubt that Garner has made it particularly obvious to not upset me or anyone really, I feel as though this book might be a little much in places and people might be a little offended by how intentionally inoffensive the book is trying to be, if that makes sense?

In parts it’s almost as if Garner is taking the mickey out of us with his gross exaggeration in these stories.

But as the Los Angeles Daily News explains, “Only the dullest – I mean humorously challenged – of people won’t have a good time with this book.”

That being said, I, particularly, loved reading these stories.

They’ve been adapted so well to reflect on these modern and reformist times where we (the enlightened) will not allow any sort of anti-progressive, entrenching remarks.

And while I realise that some may read these statements and roll their eyes all the way back (perhaps to the 1800s from which their unchanging, intolerant beliefs stem), it really is a refreshingly modern and amusing collection that becomes even funnier if you’ve been brought up reading these very tales.

After this book, a part of me wanted to stage my own counter-protest in Charlottesville. Or just organise a book reading. 

Reimagining classic children’s fairytales that transforms fragile princesses into entrepreneurs and calls just about anyone out on their sexist remarks, sounds like a pretty good read for the world right now.

I mean remember Esmeralda from Rumpelstiltskin? It turns out she actually “moved to California to open a birth-control clinic, where she showed other womyn how not to be enslaved by their reproductive systems and lived to the end of her days as a fulfilled, dedicated single person.”

Huh, who knew?

And on that note, if you haven’t already gathered, don’t let the title fool you because this is not a book for younger kids, or at least, we don't think so.

While it is a hilarious take on beloved childhood classics, maybe read the book before you decide to put it on the kids’ bookshelf.

Like granny, the content is for a “mature adult” who might also be open to laughing about how obvious Garner’s politically correct short stories are in this short but hilarious book. 

For what it’s worth though, I for one am a fangirl. 

I mean, I also want to be a self-made entrepreneur princess and live happily ever after free of just about any patriarchal influence whatsoever. 

Sounds like a not at all unpleasant future to look forward to.

Read more:

Have you read Politically Correct Bedtime Stories before? What did you think of the book? Tell us by emailing to and we may publish your comments. 

Sign up to our weekly newsletter to receive Parent24 stories directly to your inbox.  

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24