I am always on the look out for a good book of fairy tales. There are numerous available today but most of them don’t appeal to me with their modern, often cartoony, illustrations. Most of those that I see in bookshops have a disposable feel to them: fine for a quick browse but underserving of a place on my bookshop.
Classic Fairy Tales (ISBN 978-1579656867) by American illustrator Scott Gustafson first caught my attention last year when I was browsing on Amazon. I was impressed by the preview pages because the illustrations looked stunning: painstakingly hand drawn with vivid colours and striking depth. You could almost feel that you could step into the illustrations and enter the magical world of fairy stories.
Even so, it wasn’t until a few days ago that I finally decided to order my copy and I was not disappointed. The illustrations were as beautiful as they had appeared on Amazon. The book features 10 stories over 150 pages. The stories are:
- Goldilocks and the Three Bears
- Puss in Boots
- Little Red Riding Hood
- Snow White
- Tom Thumb
- Hansel and Gretel
- The Frog Prince
- Three Little Pigs
The first thing that struck me about the book was that it was very big (27.4 x 2 x 30.5 cm), looking very much like a coffee book able. This may or may not bother you but the large format makes it more difficult to carry around – it won’t fit in a standard rucksack, for example. I like to carry books around but this book will probably not be travelling with me much.
It seems to me that this book is designed as much for adults as it is for children. The retellings of the stories are longer than in most fairy tale books I own, each story having at least 20 pages. This might put off younger children, though the beautiful pictures, some appearing on a two-page spread, will help keep their interest and imagination ignited. Adults will appreciate the quality packaging, with the book clearly designed to last for generations with strong binding and thick, glossy pages.
If you’re disappointed that your favourite fairy tale is not included in this book, Scott Gustafson has published at least three more compilations. I intend to collect them all.
A highly recommended book of fairy tales.