Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bookworming: Classic Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen

When I was a kid I had this very old, very battered book of fairy tales. I'm not sure where it came from but it was one of the many books that I found hidden in cupboards in our old house - most likely left behind by my older cousins or maybe one of my aunts and uncles. It was thick and leatherbound with a castle print on the cover, and it was filled with fairy tales from a bunch of authors. The stories ranged from Chicken Little to Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. I don't know where it is now, because I have moved twice since then, but I promised myself I would try to find out if it's somewhere in my parents' house.

I loved that book. There is a common misconception that fairy tales are supposed to always end with "happily ever after" and that's really not the case. The original fairy tales weren't like the Disney versions that always had happy endings. My old book of fairy tales was actually one of the first books that got me thinking. It challenged my morals at a very young age, and sometimes even scared me to the point that I would keep it at the very top of my bookshelf and avoid looking at it for months on end. (Blue Beard scarred me for life!) Still, I came back to it from time to time, going through the stories over and over again because I enjoyed how it took my imagination to places I have never dreamed of. It was a beautiful book too, with colorful art scattered through the pages.

That is why when I first set my sights on the Classic Fairy Tales book by Hans Christian Andersen at Fully Booked, I knew I had to get it. It reminded me of the book from my childhood, and it was so beautiful, I knew it was something I would love to keep in the family for future generations.

So pretty!

Opening up the book instantly takes you to lands far, far, away. The inside front and back covers have a lovely painting of a castle in the mountains, bringing to mind images of princes and princesses, fairies and elves. 

Once upon a time... 

This book is definitely far from my old one because it only contains tales from Danish author Hans Christian Andersen, but it does have a lot of my favorites in it. There's The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, The Princess and the Pea, The Little Match Girl, The Nightingale, and my all-time favorite, The Snow-Queen. Other classics are in it too -- The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor's New Clothes, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Fir-Tree, The Tinder-box, and more.

There are stories I have read before and never liked, like Big Claus and Little Claus (one of the few stories I ever read that I deem incredibly stupid). There are also stories new to me that I simply don't care for, like Ib and Christine (I think the only point of it is heartbreak and not much else), The Rose-Elf (too morbid for me), and The Garden of Paradise (kind of disturbing). 

This book goes from lighthearted, funny, dreamlike and exciting, to horrific, freaky, and downright macabre. That's the beauty of a fairy tale book -- it can leave you in wonder or make you want to throw it away.   

The Little Mermaid

So heartbreaking!

Delicate black and white illustrations accompany the stories, as well as some full-page colored prints. The pages feel delicate and a bit sheer, giving them that distinct fairy tale book quality. Most of the stories are extremely long, but it's because the plots are woven so intricately. The author likes a lot of detail and sometimes takes the time to really develop his characters. 

One of the longest stories is The Snow-Queen. I loved it growing up and I still love it now. Reading about children meeting in a rose-filled balcony, northern lights, Lapland, riding on reindeer, and melting a heart made of ice just appeals to me so much somehow. The pictures come to life in my brain and it's all so fascinating.

The Snow-Queen. Terrifying and delightful at the same time.

The book is bound in purple leather, embossed with a gold nature pattern. Thumbelina is on the cover, and it has a gold ribbon bookmark attached. 

The gorgeous spine

The shiny gold-edged pages
I know that this book that will stay in our family bookshelf for years to come. I look forward to handing it down to my kids and grandkids in the future. 

The End

Do you like fairy tales? What's your favorite one? Let's talk in the comments!

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