Stories for Children: New Books of Fairy Tales and Other Classic Stories
Fairy tales have the power to teach us valuable lessons about love, loyalty and friendship. In these stories, characters are transformed into magical beings, sacrifices are made in their honor and small creatures perform enormous acts of courage and daring. These classic stories have been told for many generations and yet their legend grows richer with each telling.
Michael Hague’s Treasured Classics has the old-fashioned appeal of books my mother once read to me. Reading “The Three Billy Goats Gruff,” I fondly remembered my mom growling like the fierce troll under the bridge. With fourteen tales to choose from including “Jack and The Beanstalk” and “The Gingerbread Man,” children will marvel at the intricately detailed illustrations. It seems this book played a magic trick on me by transporting me back in time. (Ages 6-9)
Mouse & Lion is an unusually beautiful retelling of Aesop’s fable. Rand Burkert’s rich language embellishes the familiar story and Nancy Ekholm Burkert’s lush illustrations reflect the magnificence of the African landscape (with its brilliant orange setting sun and ancient baobab tree) in this heartwarming tale. Burkert has composed and recorded a CD of songs inspired by Aesop, also entitled Mouse & Lion. (Ages 4-8)
Brigette Barrager illustrations in Twelve Dancing Princesses reminded me of classic Disney movies such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, but her version has a decidedly modern spin. When Pip the clever cobbler discovers why the sleepy princesses’ shoes are worn out each morning, she unveils the mystery with witty dialogue rather than long-winded descriptions of the enchanted forest, boat ride, and ballroom (yawn). Well done, Miss Barrager. A lovely matching game is also available from Chronicle Books. (Ages 5-8)
Bambi by Felix Salten is such a sad story and yet this coming of age tale brings with it hope and resilience. The soft watercolor paintings by Maja Dusikova of the sweet woodland creatures glow in the forest light. The Old Prince gets me every time when he saves Bambi and watches over him until he is well again. (Ages 5-8)
Grimm’s Tales retold and illustrated by Eric Carle include “Tom Thumb,”” The Fisherman and His Wife,” “Hans in Luck” and” The Seven Swabians.” “The Fisherman and His Wife” is the most compelling with its morality tale of the greedy woman who demands more and more of the magical fish. As always, Carle’s artwork stuns with its bold originality. (Ages 3-8)
Hans Christian Andersen’s bittersweet fairy tale follows a Chinese emperor who becomes devoted to The Nightingale for its beautiful voice, but then replaces it with a golden mechanical replica who can only sing one tune. Delicate illustrations of the imperial court by Pirkko Vainio render a spellbinding setting as readers discover more about the sweet songbird’s loyalty to the emperor. (Ages 6-9)
Nicki Richesin is the editor of four anthologies,What I Would Tell Her: 28 Devoted Dads on Bringing Up, Holding On To, and Letting Go of Their Daughters; Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond; Crush: 26 Real-Life Tales of First Love; and The May Queen: Women on Life, Work, and Pulling it all Together in your Thirties. Her anthologies have been excerpted and praised in The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, Redbook, Parenting, Cosmopolitan, Bust, Salon, Daily Candy, and Babble.