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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
by Henriette Sauvant
Age Range: 6-8
This is a sumptuous collection of 14 fairy tales selected by French illustrator Henriette Sauvant and translated by Anthea Bell. While most of them are familiar stories like ‘Cinderella’, ‘Rapunzel’ and ‘Hansel and Gretel’, there are others that may be less well-known such as The ‘Sea Rabbit’, The ‘Drummer’ and ‘The Girl With No Hands’.
As Anthea Bell explains in the preface, "fairy tales were not told especially for children in the first place. They appealed to adults as well." Some tales have a gruesome element such as `The Girl with No Hands’ in which a miller unknowingly makes a deal with the Devil to chop off his daughter's hands in exchange for wealth and `The Sea Rabbit, ` in which a princess has the heads of her suitors placed on stakes around the castle before the youngest of three brothers finally manages to outwits her.
At the end of each tale Bell has provided detailed translator’s note giving some background on its origin and history, some common themes that run through the tales and how these have changed over time. These faithful translations give the reader a chance to experience some of the stories in their earliest written versions and Sauvant has produced imaginative and surreal illustrations that help add to the mystery. Some are painted in classic fairy-tale style, while others have a surreal quality – Rapunzel uses a dinner fork to comb her lengthy hair that wends into the horizon like a road. The book design is beautiful too, with heavy paper, delicate borders and ornamental capital letters. This is definitely a collection of tales to treasure.