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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)
Wild Swans (The)
by Hans Christian Andersen
Age Range: 9-11
In a faraway kingdom, there lived a widowed king and his eleven sons and one daughter, Elisa. They lived a gilded existence until the King decided to marry again. The new Queen is really a witch, and she wants nothing more than to be rid of her husband’s offspring. Their wicked step-mother turns the princes into swans and banishes Princess Elisa from the palace to live among poor farming people in the countryside.
After many years of loneliness and sorrow have passed, a chance encounter gives Elisa a glimmer of hope when she meets her beloved brothers again. However, the terrible spell they have been subjected to only allows them to return to human form during the hours of nightfall. Somehow, Elisa must find a way to break the powerful curse, but will the price she has to pay be too much?
This volume also includes The Nightingale.
When the Emperor of China hears the beautiful sound of the Nightingale it brings tears to his eyes. He wants to keep the Nightingale in a cage so that he can hear his song whenever he wants but the little bird is sad and longs to be free. A clockwork mechanical nightingale is made for the Emperor who is so delighted with it he no longer yearns for the sound of the real bird. However, when the Emperor falls gravely ill, it is the real Nightingale who is able to charm away death itself.
The Wild Swans, first published in 1838 and The Nightingale in 1844 are both well-loved tales by Hans Christian Andersen. This second classic fairy tale in the series from Pushkin Children’s Books provides a fresh, new translation from Misha Hoekstra, accompanied by elegant pen-and-ink drawings by Helen Crawford-White.
The other title in the series is The Snow Queen also reviewed on the website.