"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The McElderry Book of Grimm's Fairy Tales


The McElderry Book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales
Author: Saviour Pirotta
Illustrator: Emma Chichester Clark
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
ISBN-10: 1416917985
ISBN-13: 978-1416917984

When I first received this book and opened the padded envelope it came in, I was in awe of how beautifully illustrated the cover was. It simply took my breath away. The princess sleeping was so real, yet surreal and dreamy at the same time. I fell in love with the cover. It is in a word, sumptious.

I love fairy tales. My first love affair with books was because of Andrew Lang’s Green Fairy Book. I remember walking into the library, finding that book, then going home and falling so deeply into it that I didn’t hear my mother calling me for a long time. I was transported into the world of fairytales. Needless to say, I got into trouble for not listening. I was lucky enough to repeat that sense of getting lost in another world with this book. I’ve read Grimm’s Fairytales before, all of them and I know them well. We’re old friends. Saviour Pirotta’s retelling though is another story. I loved the changes he made, as in the ending to Snow White where the wicked stepmother’s heart breaks into a thousand pieces as the magic mirror breaks. He truly made them new and fresh. There’s an emotional quality to his writing that I loved, he gets you involved in the same way that Andrew Lang did to me all those years ago.

The McElderry Book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales contains ten tales, including one of my favorites, The Swans and the Brave Princess. Each page is beautifully illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark and the cover is only a hint of the gorgeous and lush illustrations to be found in the book. I found her creepy rendition of the forest in Hansel and Gretel to be very dark and scary. Kids are going to love this book as will their parents.


About the Author:

Saviour Pirotta was born in Malta, a small island that used to be the favorite haunt of Mediterranean pirates. His parents, both devout churchgoers named him after Jesus. [Saviour has a brother called Joseph and two aunts called Mary. His father was a carpenter.] With such a name, people expected him to grow up liking Bible stories but, influenced by his granny, he soon developed a liking for pirate and ghost stories, especially the gruesome kind that keep you awake at night. He became fascinated by the pirate lore of the Maltese islands and used to beg people to repeat popular legends over and over again. He has written more than sixty fiction and nonfiction books for children, and his works have been translated into ten languages. He has a special interest in myths and traditional legends from around the world.

About the Illustrator:
Emma Chichester Clark was born in London in 1955 but lived in Ireland until 1975. She studied at the Chelsea School of Art from 1975–8 followed by a course at the Royal College of Art from 1980–83 where she was taught by Quentin Blake.

She has worked as a freelance illustrator for various magazines including New Scientist, Cosmopolitan and The Sunday Times, and has also illustrated numerous book jackets. Her work was exhibited at the Thumb Gallery in 1984 and 1987.

Emma won the Mother Goose Award in 1988 as the most exciting newcomer to children's book illustration.

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