Tuesday, February 26, 2013

tell a fairy tale day

Today is Tell A Fairy Tale Day. My mom read all sorts of books and poems to us when my brother and I were little, from Dr. Seuss to Robert Luis Stevenson, to Winnie the Pooh and beyond. But my favorites were always fairy tales. Not just tales of princesses and witches, but the Greek myths and folklore from many different countries. Here are some of the most wonderful books of my childhood, which I read to (and with) my daughter today. I have to admit that I still enjoy the stories and especially the pictures, as much now as ever.

D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths - Husband and wife Ingri and Parin D'Aulaire wrote and illustrated many children's books, but this is their highest achievement. Still in print, even paperback, with their gorgeous, lithographic illustrations.


The Tale of The Land of Green Ginger - Noel Langley wrote and illustrated this continuation of Aladdin's story, featuring his son, Abu Ali. If you can, get hold of the original version, unedited (updated), with Langley's wonderful drawings.


Wiseacre Tales, by Mary Moffat, illustrated by "Rosalee." An out-of-print British collection of fairy tales, originally printed in the 1940s, centered around animals. My favorite was "Hoa Mei (Flowery Eyebrows) The Song Thrush of China."

Many Moons - by James Thurber, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin, this is a sweet story of an ill little princess who wants to capture the moon outside her window.

Some of my favorite individual fairy tales and myths:

"Snow White and Rose Red" - about two very different sisters who share a common trait, kindness (illustration by Arthur Rackham).

Jason and the Argonauts - the ultimate adventure story, with romance, magic, and monsters galore.

And if you want to check out a more adult take on classic Grimm, Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories is the best modern fairy tale book out there, with her feminist takes on Litte Red Riding Hood, Beauty and the Beast, Bluebeard, and much more. A modern classic.
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