Sunday, February 23, 2014

Reading: The Golden Book of Fairy Tales

Courtesy of www.barnesandnoble.com
When I was a child, my sister and I had a bookshelf filled with Little Golden Books.  I recently discovered the Golden Book of Fairy Tales and knew that I had to read this collection!  The description at the Barnes and Noble website was convincing, as it emphasized that fairy tales from many different cultures are interwoven into this book.  The description reads: "Originally published in 1958, this book contains a selection of 28 traditional stories from the French, German, Danish, Russian and Japanese traditions, [including] The Sleeping Beauty, The Frog Prince, Puss in Boots, Thumbelina, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Beauty and the Beast." Besides sharing famous tales, this collection includes breathtaking illustrations.

This collection, translated by Marie Ponsot and illustrated by Adrienne Ségur, features 28 diverse tales.  Many of the tales are new to me, including Urashamia and the Turtle, a Japanese fairy tale, and Hans and the Striped Cat, by the Brothers Grimm.  This anthology is a great edition for classroom libraries because of its breadth of tales.  As a teacher, I will place this in my library so students can select it for independent reading.  Of course, I will emphasize the importance of using the table of contents to find a tale to read, rather than just reading it from beginning to end!  It will allow students to read their favorite tales, as well as to become acquainted with tales they have never heard.  It also gives me a great variety of tales to share with my class.  Most of the tales are 3-7 pages, making them manageable read-alouds.  

The text and layout of the book make it feel antiquated or magical; each story begins with a small illustration alongside the first paragraph, and the stories are arranged with two columns of text on each page.  Designs of butterflies or thistle weeds and other natural things run vertically between the columns.  Some of the stories, like Kuzma and the Fox, include a small picture at the top of each story; most stories include a full-bleed illustration.  Some of the illustrations are black and white, and others are vibrantly colored.  At first, I thought the black and white illustrations were drawn to make the fairy tales seem dreamy; however, I am perplexed as to why some of the drawings are colored, while others are not.  Was this just done randomly to stay within a particular budget of producing the book?  Regardless of which pictures are in color and which ones are black and white, all of the illustrations are beautiful!  They are richly detailed and captivating, and they breathe life into each tale.  Of all of the fairy tales I have reviewed so far, this collection includes the most spectacular illustrations.  Born in 1901, illustrator Adrienne Ségur was known for her beautiful fairy tale illustrations and made many contributions to literature with her magnificent drawings.  For more information about Ms. Ségur, view a fan's online tribute.

Since the Golden Book of Fairy Tales includes a myriad of stories to choose from, along with fantastic illustrations, it is going to become a classroom favorite in room 119! 

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