Entertainment Books Comedian Shaun Micallef takes on the classic fairytale

Comedian Shaun Micallef takes on the classic fairytale

Shaun Micallef
Shaun Micallef says his upcoming children's book Tales From a Tall Forest is his take on the traditional fairytale. Photo: ABC
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Comedian Shaun Micallef didn’t realise he’d written a children’s book until he had finished, but says it’s his take on the classic fairytales he grew up on.

Ahead of the release of Tales From a Tall Forest, the Logie winner said he didn’t sit down to write a children’s book.

“I don’t ever really tend to write for a particular audience,” he told AAP.

“I can only write what I think is funny, and that’s really what I’ve done here”.

Tales From a Tall Forest takes familiar, peripheral characters from fairytales and puts them into the one forest.

Micallef said the idea first came to him while he was filming Stairway To Heaven, a documentary exploring the meaning of life that debuted on SBS two years ago.

“The middle story in the book is about a monkey who wants to be an omnipotent god and the other two stories grew up beside it,” said the 55-year-old star of ABC’s hit TV comedy Mad As Hell.

Although the book has similarities to other post-modern fairytales like Shrek, Micallef said he wanted to work within the traditional storytelling structure as opposed to sending it up.

“I think I’ve tried to honour the seriousness, or the structure of the classics, I haven’t tried to undercut it.”

As to the process of writing, Micallef said he never knows how a story is going to end when he begins writing.

“I let the characters work it out, that’s their job!” he laughed.

He points out most fairytales were originally written as cautionary tales, with dark and chilling undertones.

“They’re quite nightmarish stories if you read them.

“They’re dark and have a terrible ending … someone is eaten or killed or horribly disfigured and the last line is ‘and therefore … trust your parents, or don’t go outside’ or something like that,” he jokes.

The book is illustrated by Johnathan Bentley, one of Australia’s leading illustrators.

“In terms of illustrators I talked about Alice in Wonderland and Sir John Tenniel, real, original Grimms Brothers books which were Arthur Rackman, and Johnathan has embraced that classic world,” Micallef said.

Tales From a Tall Forest (Hardie Grant Egmont) will be published on October 16.