Archive for the ‘Fairytales’ Category

This is a beautiful book, one I absolutely, have to, definitely, must own. ‘A Sky Full of Kindness’ tells the story of two birds who are about to become parents. Told through stunning paper cut shapes against contrasting black and white ; this truly is a masterpiece. Rob Ryan has treated us before with his beautiful artwork but this story is somehow more poignant, more touching (if that is at all possible).

As one review pointed out, the contrast of the black and white paper-cut shapes allude to the uncertainty and changing feelings towards first time parenthood. It’s appropriate, delicate and moving. Simply, stunning. This would appeal to those looking to share with their children about having another child or just those who want to delight in the pictures with their child, or simply for us adults who want to own another individually, beautiful book.

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A beautiful, dramatic re-telling of the Aladdin story comes from masterful storyteller, Phillip Pullman. This hardback, illustrated edition is full of the wit and adventure which has allured children over many years. This really does make a lovely gift.

The illustrations, by Ian Beck; with their black theatre stage-like shadows really make the story and complement the magical nature of the story.

If anyone ever loved the Disney classic, then show them where it all started. Suitable for girls and boys.


Phillip Pullman


HB £12.99


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I stumbled upon this new edition of the wonderful Grimm’s fairytales at work. It’s one of those books which comes in stock and gets bought straight away. It’s a stunning book which really takes your breath away. To have all of the Grimm’s fairytales together in one beautifully bound book is a real treat. Each page is a whole new world of undiscovered Grimm land…

The book has been carefully researched and each story; ranging from the much-loved Cinderella and Snow White to lesser known Puss n’ Boots (no, Antonio Banderas did not create that character!) is accompanied by stunning, dramatic illustrations from the likes of Arthur Rackham, Kay Nielsen and Walter Crane. Each illustration is vivid and dramatic, standing up as individual works of arts, but put together with the haunting tales of the Brothers Grimm, we have something quite spectacular. The illustrations and vivid in colour and often are dramatically juxtaposed with shadows and 3d-like effect reminiscient of Jan Pienkowski. 

A timeless book I shall return to again and again and will recommend to anyone who has ever lost themselves in the true world of a Grimm fairytale. They may not be ‘Disney’ but they’re just as beautiful, hauntingly…breathtakingly so.




£25.00 HB


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Something of a theme is emerging over here at ‘5 Minutes Peace’ – If any of you know me well, then you know I love folk and fairy tales. If you do too, then you must add this to your collection…Alan Garner’s ‘Collected Folk Tales.’

Bound in beautiful purple and gold hardback, this edition features eighteen previously unpublished stories and poems by the master magical storyteller. Only one other author can get away with naming stories like ‘Maggoty’s Wood’ and Gobbleknoll’ and that’s Roald Dahl.

I think every child should have at least one collection of folk and fairy tales. They open up the imagination, the idea that the impossible is not such and create a new world for the reader. There’s also the odd moral thrown in for good measure! Not only that, but there’s a great deal of British mythology alluded to in the stories and that really is a treat and apparently, many of the physical descriptions and locations are actual locations in the UK. Often with fairy tales we forget that a lot of them originated from different countries; China first came up with Cinderella many many centuries ago!  It is quite clear that Garner wrote what he knew about and he knew how to make that appeal to everyone- a talented, rare breed of a writer. This really is a beautiful collection of stories. They range from animal stories to tales of love and loss and the underdog winning the day. I truly cannot imagine anything more satisfying than hunkering down in a massive chair (a bed will also suffice) and losing myself in these wondrous tales. Bliss.

So buy this for yourself, buy this for Christmas or buy this for any child who has ever gone off into the garden in search of their own magical adventure!


Alan Garner




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The Fallen By Watchbird is a book I received with great interest. Having written my dissertation on fairytales, I was eager to read this. This book has been produced to coincide with the release of Jane Weaver’s album. It’s an interesting and new direction in publicity and I really like it.

The book follows a beautiful young girl who is cared for by her own Watchbird, after her one true love is sent out to sea at war. A watchbird is not a pet, nor do you choose  to keep it. It chooses you and only those with a pure and kind heart is cared for by a watchbird. When the evil witch decides she wants a watchbird for herself, a whole flock of them descend upon the girl and the witch and prove who is more important to them; good or evil.

This is a curious tale which had me gripped. The illustrations are unique. Part hand-drawn, part digital; they remind me of ones we might see in a Grimm anthology but with a 21st century angle. The tale is rather open ended and doesn’t conclude rather than alludes to adventures ahead as the young girl continues her quest to find her soldier.

Thinking about how this book may complement Jane’s new album, I am very eager to hear her music.

A hauntingly good fairytale with an unique premise.


Jane Weaver


£6.99 HB

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And so that was the title of my dissertation which earned me a first at university. Since I started my blog last year, I have been consistent in delcaring my love for fairytales and the reasons for this are endless. It took me a long time to choose my subject for my dissertation and then something just felt right when I explored the ideas of fairytales, at first Aesop’s fables then eventually I reached the more diverse, adult concept of Grimm’s fairy tales and that’s what really interesting me- the dichotomy of a child’s concept of fairytales which such adult content. Fairytales are inherently a part of our childhoods and yet the origins of these tales are completely misunderstood. Did you know the story of Cinderella originates from 4th century China involving foot binding and foot fetishes?

And so as I researched fairytales more I became fascinated with the interpretations of these vast tales. Believe me when I say it is so easy to get lost in the world of fairytales. This genre is the basis of arguably all other genres and influence our lives so much from childhood through to adulthood. Through the use of Vladimir Propp’s theory on Morphology we can establish a fundamental purpose to each fairytale as they follow set themes and stages- of course this is all relative but what can be said is that fairytales to this day maintain a set structure, what they don’t maintain is a set influence to the reader. Fairytales influence our lives more than we could ever know. They gives us preconceptions, misconceptions and introduce us to belief and faith and the idea of fantastical possibility.

I absolutely relished in writing my dissertation- through all the re-writes, the word limits, the sweet consuming (the alcohol consuming) and the all nighters; fairy tales are wonderful and shouldn’t be dismissed in a child’s education. Go back to them, relive a memory that hasn’t been Disneyfied. Just…escape.

I’ve written this post because of http://thebookladysblog.com/ aka #pantyworthy lady. Recently, she very admirably blogged about a book titled ‘Flow- The Cultural Story of Menstruation’ by Elissa Stein and Susan Kim. She ignored the stigma and wrote about periods anyway..it shouldn’t even be a big deal that she wrote about periods in the first place but I digress. What interested me about this post is that in writing my dissertation I broached onto the subject of menstruation in my study of ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ aka ‘Little Red Cap’ as it used to be known. I came to discover little red’s hood as a symbolism for menstruation. Themes of devouring and contraception come into play aswell in the form of little red’s ‘cap’ . Typically a girls first menstrual cycle indicates a move into maturation and sexual maturity and yet in Little Red Cap this idea is rejected as the girl is naive and unwilling to submit to the anthropomorphic Wolf. There is ambivalence throughout this tale as it shows the menstrual cycle is a mere stepping stone into the path of maturity and yet makes the girl elusively aware of her sexual prowess. I don’t know about anyone else but myself and indeed, my dissertation supervisor found this fascinating stuff.

So for ‘bookladysblog’ the following list of book recommendations is for you and all your visitors from the ‘Flow’ post:

Judy Grahn, ‘Blood, Bread and Roses: How Menstruation Created the World’ (1994).

Vigen Guroian, ‘Awakening the Moral Imagination: Teaching Virtues through Fairy Tales’ (1996).

Martha Hixon, ‘Little Red Riding Hood Uncloacked: Sex, Morality and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale’ Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 129-131 Issue 29 (2004). A review of….

Catherine Orenstein ‘Little Red Riding Hood Uncloacked: Sex, Morality and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale’ (2000).

Jack Zipes (fairytale knowitall) ‘A Second Gaze at Little Red Riding Hood’s Trials and Tribulations’ The Lion and the Unicorn publication 7/8 78-109 (1983).

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Every Tuesday, I will pick five of the best….(insert category here) within the children’s literature category. This week I have chosen five of the best fairy tale collections and anthologies.

If you want to join this weekly meme you can comment about your favourite collections or choose five of your favourite….(insert category here) and post it on your own blog.

I’m working on getting a proper graphic on this so keep a look out.

I’ve chosen the Grimm’s fairy tales (amongst others) as I used their work as my point of study on my dissertation and believe their work ia a true representation on the meaning and importance of fairy tales. As much as we would like to believe their happily ever after scenario, there is a lot to be said about the suitability of these tales for children. Their origins come from a long way back, sourcing chinese traditions for Cinderella’s shoe and womanhood for Little Red’s cape.

Nevertheless, these editions I have chosen for #tuesdaychoosings have been adapted for younger readers whilst still maintaining the fantastical stories and morals.

1. For young adults: 

Definitely Not for Little Ones: Some Very Grimm Fairy-Tale Comics (Hardcover)

by Rotraut Susanna Berner (Illus) and Shelley Tanaka (Trans)

This book is written in comic format and is a great wayto reintroduce teenagers to fairy tales.
2. For 9-12:

The Fairy Tales (Hardcover)

by Jan Pienkowski (Author & Illus)

I love Jan Pienkowski’s work. I first came across him in December 2008 when I laid my eyes on her pop up gift edition of The Nutcracker and have been seeking out his work ever since. There are only four fairy tales in here but the illustrations are magnificent and provide a story in their own right. The contrasting colours with large shadows and depth really provide a magical setting in a world where anything can and does happen.
Jan Pienkowski is also known for ‘Meg and Mog’, ‘The Thousand Nights and One Night’ ‘The First Christmas’
3. For 5-8:

Mixed Up Fairy Tales (Spiral-bound)

by Hilary Robinson (Author) and Nicki Sharratt (Illus)

I’ve always been fond of Sharratt’s illustrations from my own childhood. The colour and diversity he brings to each page is always astounding and he’s what I call a great all rounder in that he appeals to girls and boys and a range of ages. His true to life illustrations bring empathy and association for the reader in regards to the story.
The mixed up tales is a great concept  and will give kids a chance to learn the classic fairy tales in a fun and interactive way. The pages are split so that you can have the three bears wearing little red riding hood’s cape. Endless fun.
4. For 3-5:

Usborne Illustrated Fairy Tales (Anthologies & Treasuries) (Hardcover)

by Rosie Dickins


This is a beautiful padded hardback collection of fairy tales that you can read with your child. The illustrations are magical and will draw the reader in to the whimsy of the tale. Soft bright colours are used throughout so the stories are not too frightening for the reader yet the use of dark colours and shadows makes it clear who the bad person is in each of the tales. As this is for young readers, the tales have been adapted to include a happily ever after scenario. Beautiful.

5. For a gift to treasure throughout the years:

The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales (Hardcover)

by Maria Tatar

The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales
A stunning hardback collectors edition by the queen of fairy tale critical studies Maria Tatar. The cover I just adore and there are some great illustrations throughout. Contains all the classic fairy tales you might expect.

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After tearing myself away from The Moomins (yes Moomin-mania has struck) I have finally looked at the Baba Yaga editions I believe are worthy of mention.

Like many traditional folktale’s there are lots of editions available and I’ve found two I want to recommend.

The first is illustrated by Lydian Green.

This book is probably suited for ages 4 and above and be sure to read it with your child as some of the themes can present themselves as threatening and scary. What I like about this book is it is written in verse and therefore flows well as a tale and the format allows the children to focus on rhythm rather than anything they might deem scary.

This Russian/Slavic folktale seems to have many origins- don’t they all? Don’t get me started on Cinderella. In translation ‘baba’ means old, grandmother and this translation might pertain as to why some interpretations suggest the witch to be a symbol of wisdom and in one case; offering kind words. Yaga has many translations but most frequently we can see it to mean pain, lazy. The oxymoron of her name and indeed her character is an indicator that children might see some level of good in the witch character and not feel so threatened by her.

Of course in Lydian Green’s illustrations ‘baba yaga’ assumes the role of the nasty witch with great intensity as she roams around on her big broomstick with a disfigured face and ghastly teeth and we are reassured by the knowledge that in a traditional folktale, more often than not good reigns over evil. This is why we look to folk and fairy tales for such guiding and educational purposes.

ISBN: 9781572550049

The second edition up for review is from a favourite of many – Arthur Ransome; the collection ‘Old Peter’s Russian Tales’

There are different editions of this available, the picture I’ve used is of the hardback edition, the paperback of the same cover seems to be out of print. I believe with anthologies like this, it’s nice to have a hard copy which will last the  countless bedtime readings over the years. If however you do want a paperback edition, have a search online and there are a few editions available.

Just read this synopsis from the book:  This is a book written far away in Russia, for English children who play in deep lanes with wild roses above them in the high hedges, or by the small singing becks that dance down the gray fells at home. Russian fairyland is quite different. Under my windows the wavelets of the Volkhov (which has its part in one of the stories) are beating quietly in the dusk. A gold light burns on a timber raft floating down the river. Beyond the river in the blue midsummer twilight are the broad Russian plain and the distant forest. Somewhere in that forest of great trees–a forest so big that the forests of England are little woods beside it–is the hut where old Peter sits at night and tells these stories to his grandchildren. I don’t think I need to say anything. Pure fantasy and escapism at its best, with just wonderful illustrations.

Quick note that I would recommend this edition of ‘Baba Yaga’ and the other tales in it to the 9-12 age group as the themes are more adult and there is not always a ‘happily ever after’. Wonderful and learned all the same.

ISBN: 9781557424655

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Yesterday a customer at work came up to the till and showed me an essay title she has been given at university and asked if we knew any books that could help on this. The essay asked (using two fairytales for example) to analyse two critics’ opinions of fairytales. Of course it was pure fate that she happened to be served by me as I did my dissertation on fairytales- the Grimm’s in particular and loved every second of it.

I’m now on a mission to find some critics for her so that we can order the books for her. I just love re-visiting my dissertation, so interesting to go back and read it in hindsight, without the stress of deadlines looming.

I hope this lady enjoys writing about fairytales as much as I did.

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No one is more the advocate for making sure fairytales exist in children’s lives than me so I continue the trend of featuring fairytale books on my blog. As promised earlier in the week Anthony Browne has reared his talented head again in the tale of Hansel and Gretel. I love the continuity Browne’s illustrations in all of his books and the simplicity of his drawings makes way  for the beautiful prose. Whilst the dark tale remains the same, the illustrations have been given the thrill of modernity to allow children to observe the story through the pictures.

The tale of Hansel and Gretel stayed with us throughout our childhoods so it’s nice that we can share this classic tale with a new generation but through their adapted understanding and comprehension of a modern world.

ISBN: 9781406318524 Suitable for age 3 and above.

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