The Orchard Book of Bedtime Fairy Tales by Helen Craig
|The Orchard Book of Bedtime Fairy Tales by Helen Craig|
|Category: Emerging Readers|
|Reviewer: Sam Tyler|
|Summary: Ten classic Fairy Tales retold and illustrated wonderfully by Helen Craig, but will they match what you remember listening to as a child?|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 96||Date: November 2015|
|Publisher: Orchard Books|
Fairy Tales have been around for centuries and reflect the tradition of oral history; stories spoken from one person's memory to another. This is why some Fairy Tales seem to have subtle differences depending upon where you were brought up. Did you hear that the three little pigs boiled the wolf alive, or perhaps you think he just walked away in frustration? Helen Craig is a talented illustrator who has decided to tackle the tricky Fairy Tale compilation. Will her retelling of classic stories match your own?
The Orchard Book of Bedtime Fairy Tales contains ten classic nursery style Fairy Tales, but have the added bonus of being illustrated by Angelina Ballerina veteran Helen Craig. For your money you get a wonderful hardback that includes classics such as Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks, but also some sneaky less well known tales such as The Little Red Hen and Chicken Little.
There is no denying that as a book of Fairy Tales, the Orchard collection looks and feels wonderful. Craig's use of soft pastel colours really evokes the magic of the stories and brings them to life. Not every page is the same; some double spreads will be mostly a picture of the characters during their adventure, whilst other pages will be getting on with the story. It is an ideal book for reading to and with a child. Younger readers are entertained by looking at the imagery and as they develop they can take over the reading as the words are printed nice and boldly on the page.
If the book was based on pictures alone, it would be a must buy, but that is not the case. Instead you must look at the adaptations of the Fairy Tales themselves. It seems like a no brainer to write up a simple retelling of Goldilocks or the Three Little Pigs, but you would be amazed by the variation that the stories have. These usually entail a softening of the more gory elements – do children really need to see a Woodsman lopping off a wolf's head? The issue with Craig's adaptations is that they do not take a standard tack. Some stories have a softened edge so that the wolf survives, but others do not. Chicken Little in particular does not sugar-coat the fate of the various birds that are coaxed into the fox's den – explaining this one to a three year old may be tricky. I would have preferred to have had all the Fairy Tales stick to their roots, or be softened. By creating a mishmash, Craig has put you in the position of perhaps skipping a couple of stories and sticking to the safe bets.
It may be that this is how Craig has learned the stories herself over the years, but even the real classics like Three Billy Goats Gruff is written here slightly differently from what I was told. You will never find a book that matches the stories of your childhood, unless you write that book yourself. This is not an issue, what is a problem are the extreme variations of tone that the stories in this collection have, which is a shame as it is illustrated wonderfully.
Retelling of Fairy Tales has always been a surprisingly tricky task as My Favourite Fairy Tales by Tony Ross and The Oxford Treasury of Fairy Tales by Geraldine McCaughrean and Sophy Williams show.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Orchard Book of Bedtime Fairy Tales by Helen Craig at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Orchard Book of Bedtime Fairy Tales by Helen Craig at Amazon.com.
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