Saturday, April 28, 2012


While primary grades have been becoming acquainted with nursery tales (The Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk), I save the hard-core study of fairy tales for the 4th grade, so we can integrate its themes into the context of Medieval history, analyze illustrator choices, and get into some of the somewhat more...uh...exciting stories from the likes of Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.  Good vs. Evil!  The recurrence of threes!  Royalty!  Magic!  Forest settings!  Transformation!  Anthropomorphism!  (Say what?!?) Good times...story times, that is.

So it was no big surprise that there was an extra thick pile of entries to the library's fairy tale art contest, judged with the help of our principal and art teacher.  Though all the art was truly wonderful, we were so pleased that the winner, B.H., really made choices that showed an "active use of space" and "perspective," things that both Mr. Nelson teaches and that are underscored in the library study of illustration.  Besides, it was awfully, awfully pretty.  The winner earned a copy of the three-dimensional fairy tale theater book, Snow White by Jane Ray, which earned ooh's and ahh's all around...real eye candy, as tempting as a witch's apple. 

Three honorable mentions received copies of Fractured Fairy Tale DVD's (not books, I know, but classics all the same).  We hope all participants are encouraged to keep up their illustrating, inspired by all the interpretations they see!

If you'd like to keep your kids reading fairy tales in your home library, you'll do the trick with the sublime Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm edited by Noel Daniel, which has a lot of different illustration styles in one book. The oil paint illustration of Kinuko Craft is museum-worthy; you children really enjoyed The Twelve Dancing Princesses, and she has done several more.   Fairy Tales retold by Berlie Doherty is another scrumptious volume,  the golden gilding throughout the pictures is so elegant, and I really appreciate the more multicultural representation.
Speaking of, author/illustrator Rachel Isadora has done a great series of traditional fairy tales set against an African backdrop, there are some really eye-popping spreads and the stories are still strong in the new context.  Check them out! 

I personally grew up on The Juniper Tree and other Tales from Grimm, in beautiful translation by Lore Segal and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, which goes in and out of print.  But that's pretty scary stuff...I still shiver when I think about "Hans My Hedgehog."   Don't worry, I didn't read it to your can decide to do that damage.  ;-)  Grown-ups can read about the meaning and value of children's experience of fairy tales in The Uses of Enchantment:  The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales by Bruno Bettelheim, which, naturally, you may agree with or not...but it's an interesting perspective.

I give links for information.  Please look for these books at your local independent bookseller (The Book Cellar supports us, let's support them!)  or in our beloved Chicago Public Library! 

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