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Mother Earth and Her Children: A Quilted…

Mother Earth and Her Children: A Quilted Fairy Tale (original 1906; edition 2007)

by Sibylle von Olfers, Sieglinde Schoen Smith (Illustrator), Jack Zipes (Translator)

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344945,221 (4.07)2
Title:Mother Earth and Her Children: A Quilted Fairy Tale
Authors:Sibylle von Olfers
Other authors:Sieglinde Schoen Smith (Illustrator), Jack Zipes (Translator)
Info:Breckling Press (2007), Hardcover, 32 pages
Collections:Read but unowned, Textiles
Tags:illustration, fairys

Work details

The Story of the Root Children by Sibylle von Olfers (1906)



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» See also 2 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
“You must all go to sleep until I wake you up again in the springtime”

Charming pictures of the little Root Children whom Mother Earth wakens in the spring as it’s time to make new clothes in the colour of their flower, before cleaning and painting the ladybirds and bees. I can’t say a great deal happens – they dance and paddle in the stream before returning underground in the autumn, but it’s quite a sweet tale. ( )
  starbox | Mar 17, 2016 |
This is a very cute explanation to how spring comes to pass! The illustrations are beautiful and full of intricate detail. The book has a soft rhyme and rhythm which make it a good read-aloud.

FOLKLORE: Could be a story handed-down to explain how spring arrives. Includes elements of fantasy that explain nature's rhythms.
  cmcmahon14 | Feb 10, 2016 |
Mother Earth and Her Children, illustrated by Sieglinde Schoen-Smith.

Originally published in 1906 as Etwas von den Wurzelkindern (literally "Something About the Root Children"), this classic German picture-book has also been released in English, together with Sibylle Von Olfer's original artwork, as The Story of the Root-Children. This edition, put out in 2007, offers a new translation (in verse) by celebrated fairy-tale scholar Jack Zipes, and new illustrations - based on von Olfers' own - in the form of an elaborate (and award-winning) quilt created by Sieglinde Schoen-Smith.

The story itself is simple: Mother Earth awakens her children, calling them to prepare for the coming Spring. Making new clothing for the season, painting the beetles with bright colors, the cherub-like children emerge from their home in the ground, delighting in the beauties of Spring and Summer, before being called home again in the Fall. A lovely and gentle celebration of the passing of the seasons, with a somewhat sentimental, anthropomorphized view of Nature, Mother Earth and Her Children is a visual delight! Schoen-Smith's quilt, made in honor of von Olfers' story, is simply gorgeous, whether seen in part, in each individual scene, or all together, at the end. Definitely one that fairy-tale fans will want to peruse! I think I may try to hunt down an edition with the original artwork, just to compare...

Addendum: after having read the German original today, I have concluded that, although Zipes is to be commended for sticking to the rhyming poetry of von Olfers' text, there are some significant differences between his version, and hers. I think this is probably inevitable, as he was attempting to translate in rhyme, but is also unfortunate, as it necessitates the inclusion of words and phrases not in the German - something I tend to dislike. In any case, those looking for the English-language text closest to the original Etwas von den Wurzelkindern should definitely pick up Zipes' translation, rather than The Story of the Root-Children, from Floris Books, which greatly expands upon the text, without ever acknowledging that it is doing so. ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Apr 7, 2013 |
Etwas von den Wurzelkindern, original German text and illustrations by Sibylle von Olfers.

After reading two very different English "translations" of this classic German picture-book, first published in 1906 - Jack Zipes' brief but poetic rendition, in Mother Earth and Her Children: A Quilted Fairy Tale, and an unnamed translator's extensive prose version, in Floris Books' The Story of the Root-Children - I have been lucky enough (thank you, Gundula!) to obtain a copy of the original German edition. Having now read the original text, my estimation of the two versions listed above, as well as my judgment of two other loose retellings - Audrey Wood's When The Root Children Wake Up, illustrated by Ned Bittinger, and Helen Dean Fish's similarly titled When the Root Children Wake Up, with von Olfers' own artwork - must be reconsidered. An important lesson, I think, about the difficulties attendant upon translating poetic works, even seemingly "simple" narratives like this.

This tale of the little Wurzelkindern, or Root Children, who awaken as Spring approaches, and, with the guidance of old Mutter Erde (Mother Earth), make ready for their appearance in the world, is told entirely in rhyming poetry: "Und als der Frühling / kommt ins Land, / da ziehn gleich einem / bunten Band, / die Käfer, Blumen / Gräser klein, / frohlockend in die / Welt hinein." Together with von Olfers' charming Art Nouveau style illustrations, the sprightly text makes for a delightful reading experience: one imagines that German children have enjoyed hearing it read aloud for a few generations now! It's a shame (though perhaps not surprising) that none of the English-language versions I have read really capture the flavor of the original. In any case, I'm happy to have had the chance to read the German, as it has definitely given me a better appreciation of von Olfers' work! ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Apr 7, 2013 |
The Story of the Root Children, with the original artwork of Sibylle von Olfers.

My first exposure to this classic German children's book was through Jack Zipes' poetic translation, Mother Earth and Her Children, with quilted illustrations done by Sieglinde Schoen-Smith, in the style of Sibylle von Olfers. I have since discovered that there are two other English-language adaptations available: Audrey Wood's When The Root Children Wake Up, with illustrations done by Ned Bittinger, and Helen Dean Fish' similarly titled When the Root Children Wake Up, with von Olfers' own original artwork. This edition, The Story of the Root Children, published by the UK-based Floris Books, is a significantly expanded prose version of von Olfers' original poem, together with her artwork.

The view of Nature here is very anthropomorphic, in a way that I imagine will be appealing for some, and less so for others. For my part, I really appreciated it as an example of the other strain of classic German children's literature: the kinder, gentler strain, especially when compared to such terrifying tales as Der Struwwelpeter. So many people with whom I speak (having read all of one book) tend to reduce German children's literature to the latter, so it will be helpful to have a title toward which to point them, in arguing otherwise.

Addendum: having now had the opportunity to read the German original of this tale, Etwas von den Wurzelkindern, I can see how significant the expansion of von Olfers' text is in this edition! I'm not sure, all things considered, that this Floris Books title should even really be considered a translation, as it in no way resembles the rhyming poem found in the original. It's disturbing to me that no translator is listed, and that there is no acknowledgment that the text has been so dramatically altered. Given that von Olfers' name is the only one appearing on the book, English-language readers could be forgiven for thinking that this was a fairly faithful rendition.

Those looking for the English language version of this story closest to the original text should pick up Jack Zipes' translation, in Mother Earth and Her Children: A Quilted Fairy Tale, which, although not perfect, retains the original rhyming poetic form. Those looking for a prose retelling of the tale, one that acknowledges what it is doing, should look to Helen Dean Fish's When the Root Children Wake Up, which (like this edition) contains von Olfers' original artwork, but which (unlike this edition) is frank about the fact that it is an adaptation, rather than a translation. ( )
1 vote AbigailAdams26 | Apr 7, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Sibylle von Olfersprimary authorall editionscalculated
Schoen Smith, SieglindeIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zipes, JackTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
Under the ground, deep in the earth among the roots of the trees, the little root-children were fast asleep all winter long.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
The root children spend the winter asleep deep underground under the care of their wise Mother Earth. When spring comes they wake up, sew new gowns and caps, and go forth into the world.
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Summary: All through the winter the Root Children sleep under the ground, but when spring comes Mother Nature wakes them up. Then the children are kept busy, sewing new gowns and capes, cleaning and painting the beetles and bugs. When summer comes they play in the fields, ponds and meadows, then in autumn they return to their underground home.… (more)

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