More fairy tales

This week we continued reading fairy tales.

We started with Marcia Brown’s Cinderella, which won the Caldecott medal in 1955.  Unlike the Disney movie, this telling of the traditional story emphasizes the relationship between Cinderella and her sisters and downplays the stepmother’s involvement.  In fact, the father isn’t even dead in this tale – he just doesn’t seem to pay attention to the fact that his second wife has basically enslaved his daughter.  Anyhow, we enjoyed the narrative and the watercolor style of the illustrations.

Our second tale this week was Jerry Pinkney’s version of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Match Girl.  Andersen’s tales are generally more than a little dark, and this story is no exception; but this gentle retelling softens the story enough that I was comfortable reading it to my preschoolers.  Even though the little girl does die in the end, the overall message of hope is beautifully illustrated both in text and pictures.

Our third and final story this week was Jane Ray’s The Twelve Dancing Princesses.  This is one of my favorite stories, due in part to Robin McKinley’s masterful retelling of it in The Door in the Hedge, her collection of fairy tales retold for a teen or even adult audience.  Jane Ray has made this story palatable to young readers (mainly by eliminating two key elements of the original tale, namely that the underground princes are demons and that the king has any suitor who fails to discover the princesses’ secret beheaded – but the story loses none of its charm without these factors).  Her illustrations give the story an almost Persian feel, and are simply lovely.  This is easily my favorite of the three books we read this week.

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