Slice of Life: When Tales Get Fractured


We’re just starting a short unit on plays and drama, as I break my classes into groups for some fractured fairy tales. They are a hoot, allow for collaboration and fun at the start of the year, and give me a chance to get some data on reading fluency. It’s a read-aloud activity, not a memorize activity, and completely low stakes. I bring this up because this morning, over at National Writing Project writing site that I am part of (known as the iAnthology), the host of this week’s writing prompt put up a post about writing “non-linear narratives” with fairy tales.

I dove in, as I already had such stories on my mind this morning.

Here’s what I wrote:

The Hero Cat

It’s not easy being Rapunzel’s cat, you know? I’ve lost six lives already just jumping down from various windows trying to get her some help. What is it with these witches, anyway? Punz thinks they are just jealous of her hair but I don’t know. It must be something nuttier than that. You ever wonder if there is some writer in the cloud, crafting out our lives as stories and adding drama when things get a little boring? I do, although I can’t say there is a lot of rhyme or reason to how our lives unfold. I mean, we both heard about that tragic news story of the women who were held captive in that house for ten years. How do you explain that? Punz and I were sad, but understood that familiar tale. Although they had a monster, not a witch.

And they did not have a cat.

Still, here we are again, stuck in the upper room of an abandoned castle. I don’t even remember why this witch wanted her here. The stories are getting all fractured and confusing. Anyway, we spend our days in a routine. Punz combs her hair, which takes hours and then she starts over again, and I chase lose hair strands around the room until I get bored. You’d be surprised how many times I can do that, though. The chasing keeps me sane. And who can resist? Every other day or so, Punz tries to get me to jump again. The last six times … let’s just say I never want to do that again. But I care about this kid. She needs protecting.

This morning, when she rubbed my head and hit that sweet spot under my chin, my defenses crumbled. I’m going. I’m jumping. And if it is anything like last time, it’s going to hurt. She is all smiles as I pull on these special boots I was given by another witch — I know! More witches! I can’t explain — as I hope they might break the fall a bit.  Punz calls me, “My Hero, Puss in Boots.” If I had thumbs and fingers, I could just shimmy down her hair, the same way those heroes all have come up. Still, you should hear her cry when they use her hair as a ladder. That’s gotta hurt.

I give Punz a goodbye rub of the back and tail, and savor a moment of cudding as she tells me I am the best cat in the whole world. Then, I am up on the window sill. Then, in the air … falling, falling … Believe it or not, there is an incredible moment to think about what it means to be the kind of cat I am, a hero cat, whose mission in nine lives is to save the beautiful princess again and again.

No one ever tells those stories. Not even that great writer in the cloud.

Peace (in the share),


  1. Do you have more about how you do this activity? We’re going to start writing fractured tales next week, and I’d love to have more ideas. I like the idea of recording this as read alouds.

  2. Love the cat point of view! I never thought about how Rapunzel’s hair would hurt when others climbed up it. Do you share your students tales too? Fun writing.

  3. You are an amazing writer of boundless energy and your incorporation of sound tracks makes your writing worthy of publishing in countless domains!

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