Classic Bedtime Stories (ISBN 978-1579657604) is the third book of fairy tales by illustrator Scott Gustafson that I bought. Like the first two, Classic Fairy Tales and Classic Storybook Fables, this one is big, bright and beautiful with lavish and exquisite illustrations that you feel like tearing off the book to frame and display on your wall.
The stories included in Classic Bedtime Stories are:
- The Country Mouse and the City Mouse
- Sleeping Beauty
- The Tortoise and the Hare
- The Story of Little Sambha and the Tigers
- The Bremen Town Musicians
- The Three Billy Goats Gruff
- The Lion and the Mouse
- Jack and the Beanstalk
The highlights for me are Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk. Two illustrations in the former stand out in particular: that of Briar Rose finding the witch with the spinning wheel and that of the prince finding Briar Rose in her enchanted sleep. These two are pure masterpiece, simply magical.
I do, however, have one rant about Gustafson’s version of Sleeping Beauty. I would argue that the image that would come up in most people’s minds when they think of the story of Sleeping Beauty is that of the prince kissing Briar Rose to wake her up from her 100 years of sleep. But, instead, Gustafson teasingly tells the reader “Whether he kissed her then or not, we shall never know, for no one was there to see, and the Princess would never tell”.
For a bit of balance, I will commend Gustafson for not denying Jack of his Englishness. Gustafon being American, I expected him to change that famous line, “Fee, fie, fo, fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman!”, to something like ” … I smell the blood of a poor young man!” as in many American books. Happily, Jack retains his nationality here.
Classic Bedtime Stories is another worthy addition to the library of anyone who appreciates fairy tales.