For those who, as children, enjoyed the delightfully ironic revisions of fairy tales on “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show,” here are some grown-up versions with even more amusing (and sometimes risqué) twists. And wait . . . there’s more! These are in sassy, light-on-its-metrical-feet verse. What if the heroes and heroines of fairy tales behaved not like good little moral exemplars, but like real human beings? The satire is deliciously subversive and wide-ranging, from foot fetishists to vegans to politicians, from farts to adultery to child abduction. And the illustrations by Ron Barrett are equally clever, with all kinds of hidden in-jokes, like a “Mad” magazine of yore. I read it from cover to cover the day it arrived.
But it is not just fun. Like other recent writers, such as Anne Sexton in “Transformations” or Stephen Sondheim in “Into the Woods,” Balmain is often looking at these familiar stories from a knowing new perspective that questions the givens of who is good, who is bad, and what kinds of endings are happy. So, yes, she is going for maximum chortles, but that doesn’t hide the sharp wisdom underneath.