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The Brothers Grimm: Popular Folk Tales by…

The Brothers Grimm: Popular Folk Tales

by Jacob Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm

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I had been casting about in my mind of late, trying to think of a suitable gift for my cousin's young son, when it occurred to me that all children should have a few fairy-tale collections in their library. Naturally, my mind turned to this book, with its thirty-one tales from the Brothers Grimm. Translated by Brian Alderson in the 1970s, and illustrated by the talented Michael Foreman, who has worked with such children's literature luminaries as Leon Garfield, Terry Jones, and Michael Morpurgo, its brevity and visual whimsy make it the ideal introduction to these marvelous tales.

A "complete" edition of the Brothers Grimm might prove overwhelming for the very young child, but this title is the perfect length. Foreman's art, which can be both eerie and humorous, enhances the effect of these "strange little tales." I enjoyed Alderson's translation, which strives to locate the tales in their oral context, and to communicate the directness of the text in the original German. The language here is not "fancy" or remote, and has an earthy, sometimes very working-class flavor. This is a very "British" translation, particularly in those selections where Alderson is trying to approximate the dialectical variations of the original, but I think American readers will be able to appreciate it.

The tales themselves (as always) are fascinating... The gruesome Fitcher's Bird, a variation on the classic Bluebeard story, always makes me shiver. The Fisherman and His Wife is a tale that has been recurring in my reading recently, with versions from Poland and Russia cropping up. The Twelve Dancing Princesses and Rapunzel are always favorites, as is Hansel and Gretel and Rumpelstiltskin.

Greedy and cruel women abound here, and their punishments are invariably extreme. The double-standards can be a little difficult to take: the uncaring father in Hans, My Hedgehog is rewarded by his son in the end, but neglectful mothers meet terrible ends. Still, children will thrill to these tales (severed body parts and all), particularly the ones about young people cast out into the world. ( )
  AbigailAdams26 | Jul 11, 2013 |
The art is beautiful and creepy. Stories are gory in places, unlike many modern re-tellings, but it is balanced by clear messages about right and wrong. Unless a child is easily frightened, they can handle this; I often requested stories from this book for bedtime stories as a child. ( )
  AGangi | Dec 23, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Jacob Grimmprimary authorall editionscalculated
Grimm, Wilhelmmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Alderson, BrianTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Foreman, MichaelIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Thirty-one folk and fairy tales collected by the Grimm brothers including "Rapunzel," "Snow White," "The Twelve Dancing Princesses," and "Hansel and Gretel."

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