A Treasury of Fairy Tales by Helen Cresswell

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A Treasury of Fairy Tales by Helen Cresswell

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Lorraine McDonald
Reviewed by Lorraine McDonald
Summary: With detailed illustrations and crisp text, this is a compilation of traditional fairy stories that’s worth clearing a space on your shelf for.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 96 Date: November 2013
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 978-0007546510

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Once upon a time, in a village not so far away, a mother and her son received a parcel. In that parcel was ‘A Treasury of Fairy Tales’, kindly sent by the publisher Harper Collins. They curled up on the sofa and started to read… would they be enchanted?

Every childhood should have fairy tales. Good and evil. Right and wrong. Heroes and villains. Fairy tales introduce children to basic story telling and have in them morals, warnings and lessons for life. This volume of twelve stories is written in language that is clear, crisp and pulls no punches. Helen Cresswell takes a traditional approach. There are no modern day twists here; no feisty princesses, or wise cracking cats. There is no irony. No sarcasm. No knowing winks or nods to the adults. These tales are timeless and told without the voice of the author dominating.

The twelve stories here are mainly fairy tale classics. Cinderella, Rapunzel, Dick Whittington, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are included. The Emperor’s New Clothes, a tale of vanity and sycophancy, is perhaps less frequently told, and I hadn’t come across The Twelve Dancing Princesses before. The lengths vary from the two pages that make up the Princess and the Pea, to the twelve pages of Beauty and the Beast, giving some choice for an early or late bedtime.

Fairy tales have their dark side. I learned this when, with the best of intentions, I bought my seven year old niece a translated compilation of the Brothers Grimm and found wife beating and birds pecking people’s eyes out! Helen Cresswell pitches her re-telling well. Heads roll in the Twelve Dancing Princesses and a cat demands favours with menaces (I will have you all chopped as small as mincemeat) in Puss in Boots. The peril and violence in these tales is just enough to reflect the origin of these stories, add drama and pique the interest of children but not so graphic as to guarantee nightmares.

The illustrations in this book are by Sian Bailey. There is a pre-Raphaelite flavour where princesses are involved. Each story has one full page spread, and smaller illustrations are dotted amongst the text. Bailey’s paintings contain a level of detail that will make re-reading these stories a pleasure as they stand up to re-examination well. The art work is beautiful but insufficient in terms of quantity to allow a younger child to pick this volume up and re-imagine the story on their own, though they may want to take a second look, and giggle, at her illustration of the Emperor in his altogether. I shall leave that one to your imagination!

Was it enchanting? Well, in that village, not so far away, the mother reached the end of the story. Her little boy’s eyes were heavy with sleep, so she put the book away carefully, ready for another night. They’ll read a tale another time and there will always be more happily ever afters.

If this book appeals then we think that you might also enjoy The Thousand Nights and One Night by David Walser and Jan Pienkowski

Buy A Treasury of Fairy Tales by Helen Cresswell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Treasury of Fairy Tales by Helen Cresswell at Amazon.co.uk

Buy A Treasury of Fairy Tales by Helen Cresswell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Treasury of Fairy Tales by Helen Cresswell at Amazon.com.


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