Saturday, November 20, 2010

Mary Engelbreit's Fairy Tales

Random House
Who doesn't love a book of fairy tales with rich, lavish illustrations? And who doesn't love the illustrations of Mary Englebreit?

The illustrations for this collection of twelve traditional fairy tales are bright and cheery, and full of little details children (and adults) will have a great time discovering. In Beauty and the Beast, one of the sisters has her tongue sticking out in concentration as she makes a list of all the things she wants her father to bring her. Snow White's evil stepmother sports a tiny skull bracelet as she furiously mixes the potion for her poison apple.

The picture definitely make the book, as we had mixed reactions to the stories. Engelbreit mentions in her author's note that she rewrote some of the endings to show her daughter and other young girls that it isn't necessary to marry a Prince Charming to be happy. The Princess and the Frog become good friends. The Little Mermaid is carried into the air by friendly spirits.

In some cases, this works, in others, it frankly doesn't. In Rumplestiltskin, it is the King's advisors who lock up the miller's daughter and make their demands, so we don't have to wonder why on earth she would marry someone who would threaten her life. The Little Mermaid, however, is a little too white-washed, and The Princess and the Pea still leaves the impression that a) the girl must be perfect, nobody cares about the prince's flaws, and b) being oversensitive and wimpy somehow makes you perfect. We would also have liked to see a bit more of an ethnic mix in our heroines (and heroes) - with a very few exceptions (Thumbelina), everyone is obviously Anglo.

In short, if you are looking for a beautifully illustrated book to read aloud - and hopefully discuss - with your daughters, this book is a fine choice. If, however, you are looking for a collection that is either all traditional or all PC, this is not it. Overall, we give it a

3 out of 5.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this book! Reviewing it next week sometime, but for now just drooling ver the illustrations.