Monday, December 28, 2009

Fairy Tales: Persephone, Thumbelina, Snow White and The Snow Queen

In addition to re-reading all the Hardy Boys mysteries, I am reading with rapidity through the piles of accumulated library books stacked about my shelves. Here's a collection of fairy tales and myths I've been saving up to read and review.

This new version of Persephone, retold by Sally Pomme Clayton and illustrated by Virginia Lee has gorgeous illustrations but the text felt a little thin to me. It's a fairly simplified version of the myth with no reconstructions or additions. There's a short epilogue about how the myth - and pomegranates - figure in Greek society today.

Persephone retold by Sally Pomme Clayton, illustrated by Virginia Lee
ISBN: 978-0802853493; Published January 2009 by Eerdmans; Borrowed from the library
I scooped up this version of Thumbelina retold by Brian Alderson and illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline because I enjoyed the illustrations in Lowry's Crow Call. The retelling is excellent, keeping the flavor of Andersen's original story while using updated and accessible language, but I was disappointed by the illustrations. Thumbelina, for some reason, made me think continously of Alice in Wonderland. Lisbeth Zwerger's illustrations remain my favorite.

Thumbelina retold by Brian Alderson, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
ISBN: 978-0763620790; Published October 2009 by Candlewick; Borrowed from the library

I've been looking for the "right" version of Three Billy Goats Gruff, the story I remember from when I was a child, and I'm pretty sure I've found it! It's the original story, complete with gory threats and troll-destruction at the end and full of Marcia Brown's colorful and vivid illustrations.

Sensitive parents may be horrified by the terrifying troll and his even more terrible fate, but if you choose to tell this story instead of reading it, you can soften the ending, depending on your audience. There's a reason this is a classic folk tale; it has a wonderful cadence and this is a great retelling.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff, retold and illustrated by Marcia Brown
ISBN: 978-0156901505; This edition published February 1991 by Sandpiper; Borrowed from the library; Added to my personal wishlist
I don't remember where I heard about this new version of Snow White but it's a lovely one. I love North South publisher's works (except for Pfister, but that's a whole 'nother issue) and this lovely fairy tale is no exception. Greban's illustration are lively and warm, perfectly complementing the original tale. Which, I am pleased to say, is included in its entirety, from Snow White's begging the huntsman for her life to the wicked queen's gruesome end.

I realized we had almost nothing on Snow White, so I'm looking forward to adding this deliciously weird tale (come on, if you really think about Snow White, it's seriously WEIRD)

Snow White by the Brothers Grimm, illustrated by Quentin Greban
ISBN: 978-0735822573; Published October 2009 by NorthSouth; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library
Finally, I have an old tale illustrated by Bernadette Watts. The Snow Queen was gorgeous; I am putting this on my wishlist of books I want for myself. Some parts of the story have been changed; I missed the full explanation of Kay's challenge with the ice blocks and felt that most of the flavor and personality of the little robber girl had been smoothed away, but the splendid beauty of the illustrations more than makes up for any minor deficiencies in the text. For those not familiar with the Snow Queen, it's a long and somewhat complicated quest tale, similar to East of the Sun, but full of Andersen's characteristic storytelling genius.

The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, retold and illustrated by Bernadette Watts
ISBN: 978-1558587793; Published September 1997 by NorthSouth (out of print); Borrowed from the library; Added to my personal wishlist

1 comment:

Kate Coombs said...

Yay, fairy tale picture books! I confess a fondness for Janet Stevens' version of The Three Billy Goats Gruff--it's her big goat in the dark glasses and leather motorcycle jacket that gets me!