Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Joy of Fairy Tales

Pic courtesy
The Joy of Fairy Tales
Compiled and edited by Gill Davies
Published by Worth Press Ltd.
Ages 8+

Imagine a book that has one mesmerised as soon as one picks it up. Makes one forget that one is not a child anymore. One that makes you want to just sit with it and read and read and read. The moment I picked this book up at the bookstore, I knew I could not let it go.

Appealing to children and adults alike, the book is a smorgasbord of fairy tales from all over the world, with snippets of trivia in the margins - European, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, African, Australian, Russian, name it.

There are tales as old as the Arabian nights, tales re-told from mythology and folklore. There are tales as new as those from J.K.Rowling's Tales of Beedle the Bard.

There are tantalising excerpts from magical books like The Wizard of Oz, Gulliver's Travels, Lewis Caroll's Alice books, E. Nesbit's The Phoenix and the Carpet, Kipling's Just So Stories, The Princess and the Goblin, even Shakespeare.

We also have the usual suspects like Hans Christian Anderson, the Grimm brothers, Charles Perrault, and Andrew Lang. As also magical poetry by the likes of Edward Lear, Robert Louis Stevenson, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Shakespeare, and that tantalising poet - Anonymous, and many more.

Think that is a long list? Just the contents of this 766 page book runs into 16 pages. We also have an extensive bibliography for those interested in more reading, short biographies of all the authors and illustrators (the illustrations alone are worth picking up the book for- each tale comes with the original illustrations it was first published with) featured.

For those interested in the evolution of the fairytale, there is a detailed timeline of fairytales and folktales through history, from all continents - right from the ancient Sumerian epic tale of Gilgamesh c. 2000 BCE to Harry Potter. As also links from that modern magic wand- the internet.

As the editor says in an afterword: "So here is a book to treasure...through its pages the reader can discover how ancient folk tales and legends developed, changed and spread - and how in their re-telling they became the familiar stories we know today." Not just another anthology.

A and I have been dipping into it at all through the vacation. Perfect for bed-time reading.

Crossposted here.


Choxbox said...

Till Disney came and changed them, fairy tales were good - for the 8+ crowd. This seems to fit in perfectly. 16 pages of contents alone? Wow!

sandhya said...

Agree completely re Disney. Though the book does mention some Disney created fairytales like Shrek - "it revisits fairy-tale themes while parodying popular culture."

It also mentions the major movies by Disney in the timeline. There are some notable books mentioned in the timeline too- books like Sendak's "Where the wild things are", Ed Young's "Lon Po Po", Raymond Brigg's "The Snowman", Julia Donaldson's "The Gruffalo", Tolkien's "lord of the Rings" trilogy, Ethel Turner's "Seven Little Australians", etc., that haven't been included in the actual stories featured. A wonderful source for those interested in the genre of fairytales and folktales.

sathish said...

wow. what a find!

Sandhya, if guys are finished with it, may be I can borrow it :)

sandhya said...

Thanks, Satish. Sure you can borrow it.

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