Joseph Pagan states in the Introduction to his collection of 12 short stories for children and young adults that “[it] is my hope that a lot of sleepy heads will enjoy [these stories] … and [that they will] give readers a chuckle or two.” His aim meets with mixed results.
The first five stories are moderately charming fairytales intended for children. “Eloise and the Enchanted Teapot” involves a genie who grants one wish to a girl named Eloise. The genie produces three frogs and tells Eloise her wish will come true if she kisses the correct frog; if not, she’ll be locked in a tower and chained to a wall for eternity. “Cinderella and the Sandman” is a sequel to the traditional “Cinderella” tale, in which Cinderella and her Prince traverse the perilous Witch’s Wicked Forest to reach their castle in the land of Goofyclay.
“The Man and the Moon” tells of Mr. Moon Man and his journey to find his missing wife and children, who slipped and fell while sliding on moonbeams. Mr. Moon Man calls on Mother Nature for help, and she delivers. The two-part “The Spider Girl of Calendery” is a time-honored tale of a Prince’s chivalrous determination to free a cursed, beautiful maiden.
The remaining stories, written for young adults, are in need of much polishing. Pagan indicates that several of these tales are adaptations from his unfinished screenplays — and “unfinished” is a proper description for this collection. As a whole, the stories are marred by punctuation and grammar mistakes, inconsistencies in the spelling of characters’ names, and nonsensical plots that lack narrative, character development, and purpose. Incorrect word usage further impedes the collection’s merit: the missteps include “insure” rather than “ensure”; “there” instead of “their”; and “his self” instead of himself.
In sum, Pagan’s fiction would benefit from revision that pays closer attention to detail.
Also available in hardcover.