Personally, I prefer our picture books to reflect the original versions of the stories as much as possible. I don't mind a little revision, but it would seem that I must accept some. I am definitely not on the lookout for sanitized tales but picture books are going to be kind with the visuals and I do appreciate that very much! I prefer our fairy tale picture books to have a more classically illustrated feel about them, with few exceptions. Fairy tales are a thing of beauty and I think the books we own should reflect that.
If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.
― Albert Einstein
The Story of Little Red Riding Hood, by Christopher Bing was my favorite of the ones I browsed through.
Bing's illustrations are what drew me to this version initially. Of note, he used his youngest daughter for the model of the heroine. He brings the story to life with pen and ink drawings. This book contains the Grimm version of the story (the wolf is cut open in his sleep and grandmother and Red are both rescued with the wolf being killed and turned into a pelt). This version of the story was first published in 1812. Also included in Bing's book is the 1697 version by Charles Perrault. The moral of Perrault's story is also provided. It is interesting to read so I'll provide it for you here:
Especially young girls,
Pretty, well bred, and genteel,
Are wrong to listen to just anyone,
And it's not at all strange,
If a wolf ends up eating them.
I say a wolf, but not all wolves
Are exactly the same.
Some are perfectly charming,
Not loud, brutal or angry,
But tame, pleasant and gentle,
Following young ladies
Right into their homes, into their chambers,
But watch out if you haven't learned that tame wolves
Are the most dangerous of all.
I deviate immediately from my general rule about fairy tales having a classical feel to them by confessing that we own the Brigette Barrager edition of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. This one is 1960's all the way, baby! It's not so much "classical" as it is "vintage." And although I don't really care much for the style of the 60's, I do like this book. (Also, I did not find a version I liked better!) I find this story more whimsical than others and Barrager's illustrations are whimsical (to me) making the story and the artist compatible. Here's an example of her work:
Maybe I like it because it has something of a Disney-fied feel to it. Whatever the reason, this is my chosen edition despite the fact that the story is retold. Deviating from the 1812 version as told by the Brothers Grimm, Barrager has it so that a cobbler by the name of Pip makes himself a pair of soft shoes by which he can follow the princesses at night without making any noise. There is no witch in the woods and no magic cloak. Disappointing, but I'm trading it for the illustrations and feel of the book. If someone has another version to offer for my consideration, I'm willing to hear about it. ;)
Fairy tales do not give the child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon. - G.K. Chesterton
Charles Santore illustrated a version of Snow White that stays true to the Grimms original tale. The wicked queen is commanded to put on a pair of magic slippers at Snow White's wedding which forces her to dance herself to death. (Prince Charming and Snow from Once Upon a Time could take a clue. Just sayin'.)
Lastly, for this post, is Paul O. Zelinsky's version of Rumpelstiltskin.
In this retelling of the story, Rumplestiltskin runs away never to be heard from again. This is in keeping with the original 1812 telling of the story, which was later revised in 1857. The 1857 version has Rumpel flying into a rage and stomping his foot into the ground, creating a chasm which he falls into. Either which way, he doesn't get the Miller's Daughter's baby. Which again makes one wonder where Once Upon a Time is going to do with Rumpel in the end. Any guesses?!
I left the fairy tales lying on the floor of the nursery, and I have not found any books so sensible since. ― G.K. Chesterton
I'll share more of our home collection of fairy tales tomorrow so stay tuned!