Architects tinker with construction of fairy tales

August 15, 1991|By New York Times News Service

When the next generation of children reads fairy tales like "Beauty and the Beast," it may learn not only that beauty isn't skin deep, but that style matters too.

Next month four fairy tales, each illustrated or written by the architects Charles Moore, Robert A.M. Stern, Stanley Tigerman and John Hejduk, will be published by Rizzoli.

Since adults generally choose books for young children, the series is for those who fancy themselves members of the design cognoscenti. "We're dealing with parents who care about how their children look at things," said Howard Reeves, editor of children's books at Rizzoli.

Not everybody is going to buy the books, he admitted. "Everyman does not walk through the world knowing the names of great architects or designers," he said.

Rizzoli, which publishes monographs on the four architects, invited them to do the books last year. Each approached the task differently.

Stern's book, "The House That Bob Built," is a revisionist nursery rhyme seeking to promote, along with literacy, the joys of his Shingle Style architecture.

Reeves had the idea (taken from "The House That Jack Built"), and Stern found the illustrator (Andrew Zega, who draws architectural renderings for him).

The original tale begins: "This is the house that Jack built. This is the malt that lay in the house that Jack built...." In place of the cat, rat and people in the original story, Stern rewrote the rhyme with a welcoming porch, a hallway and a bedroom.

At first Stanley Tigerman, who practices in Chicago, did not want to do a book. But his wife, Margaret McCurry, also an architect, suggested that they make it a family project. She and his daughter, Tracy Tigerman, an elementary-school teacher in Virginia, wrote the story for "Dorothy in Dreamland."

Dorothy, borrowed from "The Wizard of Oz," falls asleep, and in her dreams stumbles into the lives of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Three Little Pigs and Little Red Riding Hood. She changes the ancient tales.

Tigerman did embellish the lesson on the importance of a well-built house. In "The Big Bad Wolf," all three of the pigs' houses hold up because they are so sturdy.

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