Book Review of FAIRY TALES from the BROTHERS GRIMM--by Philip Pullman

Since I can remember, I've loved fairy tales--the Grimm kind and the Disney kind. If you recognize that line, it's straight from my bio. So you can imagine how excited I was to receive an advanced reader's copy of FAIRY TALES from the BROTHERS GRIMM, which was compiled and rewritten by Philip Pullman for the 200th anniversary of the Grimms' stories.

Yes, the author of the beloved His Dark Materials books has a new book coming out on November 12th. Should you run out and buy it for the holiday season? My vote is yes. And here's why:

Pullman must have spent countless hours reading and researching for FAIRY TALES. He's written an expansive introduction that explains much of his research, and after each of the fairy tales (he includes 50), he writes a note comparing the many versions of each tale to one another and writes why he chose to coalesce elements from many versions into the one he's written.

As for the fairy tales, themselves, they're fun, morbid, but many have happy endings. I remember the Grimms' tales from my childhood, but I remember them being much darker--dark enough to give me nightmares. But Pullman's versions generally have happy endings, but grotesque middles. A nice compromise, I think, between Grimm and Disney.

Some of my favorite tales from the 400+ page volume include "The Girl with No Hands," "Thousandfurs," and "The Shoes that Were Danced to Pieces." And never fear, Disney lovers, Pullman also includes tales such as "Cinderella," "Rumpelstiltskin," "Rapunzel," "Hansel and Gretel," "Little Red Riding Hood," and a great deal of other old favorites.

"The Girl with No Hands" reminded me why the Grimms' tales gave me nightmares. A father cuts off his own daughters' hands! And she is forced to wander through the world without them. In Pullman's version, her hands are first replaced with silver and then they eventually regenerate through the grace of God.

I read a version of "Thousandfurs" long ago, and I remember wishing for a nut with three beautiful dresses in it and for the golden ring, spindle, and bobbin. But in the version I read as a child, the father didn't want to marry his daughter, not even close. Thankfully.

And finally, I also had a beautifully illustrated volume of "The Shoes that Were Danced to Pieces." I danced with the princesses and their princes in my dreams and wished I could be the youngest who trailed after her sisters, a little more hesitantly than all the rest. I, however, didn't have any interest in marrying the soldier. Maybe, like those princesses, I wanted to stay a child, living out my childhood fancies for the rest of my life.

For those of you who have always loved the tales from Grimm, you'll find Pullman's version refreshing and fun. These stories--many of them at least--would be great fun to share with your little ones. So if you're looking for a present this holiday season that would delight the entire family, I recommend FAIRY TALES from the BROTHERS GRIMM by Philip Pullman.


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