In SurLaLune world, Mercer Mayer is best known for his beautiful fairy tale picture books, such as East of the Sun and West of the Moon and Beauty and the Beast. His illustrations for both are some of my favorites ever for either of these tales. I am also fascinated that while he hasn't illustrated many fairy tales, he has touched two that are very closely related. They are beautifully rendered.
In the real world, Mayer has really made his living with the Little Critter series. I'm too old to have grown up with these, but my sister introduced them to me as classroom favorites years ago. My personal favorite is I Just Forgot (A Little Critter Book).
We have this post today, however, because Mayer wrote three fairy tale themed Little Critter books, first published in 1991 and reissued once since then but long out of print now. They are being rereleased this fall and are already shipping despite a September release date. They are Lift-the-Flap books and although I haven't seen them in person, I imagine they are as charming as any other Little Critter book. I am most interested in the Hansel and Gretel one since I am always curious to see how one of the scariest of fairy tales is adapted into a cute picture book for today's children.
I've mentioned before that one of my first exposures to fairy tales came memorably through The Berenstain Bears' Nursery Tales before that series became so didactic in later years. I adored those earliest books and still have a soft place in my heart for that one. I have a vivid memory of pulling it off the shelf and reading it to myself after learning to read. It was familiar but not memorized and I was triumphant at the accomplishment. So who knows if Little Critter will perform the same service to some future fairy tale readers, too.