Monday, February 27, 2012

Mary Engelbreit's Fairy Tales: Twelve Timeless Treasures

If you are looking for a sweetly illustrated collection of fairy tales with many, many illustrations, but definitely not Disney, I would recommend Mary Engelbreit's Fairy Tales: Twelve Timeless Treasures. The book is currently bargain priced at Amazon for $7.80 in hardcover and I am tempted to pick up one or two gift copies myself.

This one is "safe" for the preschool set and will also satisfy parents who are concerned about being too scary too early because this book isn't. Engelbreit brings her brand of humor and sweetness to the illustrations that are not generic like many of the collections that children tend to receive instead. (I think of them as grocery store books.) I think books like this make great bridges between the unadulterated original tales that make parents wary of fairy tales. And the illustrations are vibrant and profuse throughout the collection. And the book should especially appeal to the little girls who adore Disney without giving them all of the Disney merchandise if that is important to you. (I know people to whom it is.)

From Engelbreit's notes:

I wanted to share these timeless stones with children today, but as I read and considered which to include, I realized for the first time how many of the stories ended with the message that marrying a prince is the solution to all of life’s problems. If only that were true! Knowing how independent and free-spirited my daughter Mikayla and her friends are—and wanting to nurture that—I felt it was important to bring out the spirit of dashing adventure in the richly imaginative world that I’d enjoyed as a child. So I decided to edit some of these endings a bit, letting children know it is okay for the princess and her frog to remain friends or that a prince can help with the household chores.

After choosing the twelve tales, I had fun dreaming up the costumes, especially the ball gowns. I based the clothes on styles, decorative patterns, and fabrics from different periods that I like, especially Elizabethan and medieval times.

You can preview the book on Amazon to see the full table of contents and many more illustrations. I shared just a few here to give an impression of Engelbreit's style.

1 comment:

  1. This collection of fairy tales re-written and illustrated by Mary Engelbreit is a fantastic deal. With twelve stories within the book compared to the usual one-story book that nears fifteen dollars by itself Mary Engelbreit's Fairy Tales: Twelve Timeless Treasures is a good buy at any reasonable price.
    What also makes these stories by Engelbreit such a deal is because it’s true that many fairytales are unadulterated; for instance the Brothers Grimm’s story of Cinderella has the two evil stepsisters cutting off parts of their feet to fit them into the glass slipper. They trick the prince at first but then luckily, with the help of two pigeons, the prince sees blood soaked socks and blood pouring out of the slipper as they left the house of Cinderella. In the Chinese Cinderella by Tuan Ch’eng-shih, the stepmother kills the pet fish of Cinderella and then eats it because she wants Cinderella to be miserable. A little change from these, sometimes grotesque, images in fairy tales should be a welcome change for any parent wanting to share fairy tales with their children.
    If now you’re wondering if fairy tales are even appropriate for your child please reconsider the benefits too. Fairy tales have been passed down through centuries because of their value as teaching tools. The Chinese Cinderella mentioned before is dated all the way back to 850 AD. These stories – generally modified to fit the locality in which it is told – teach culture to younger generations and even help children resolve issues that arise in their psyche while growing up. An example would be the Cinderella tale, with over 500 versions worldwide it still teaches young children how to deal with the new concept that their mother isn’t perfect or always nice. Children learn through the story of Cinderella that sometimes their mothers are like the wicked stepmother and during other times like the fairy godmother. Now all the children need to understand is that if they do what their evil mom tells them and continue to be really good then their fairy mom will come and bless them for their behavior.
    With so many positive outcomes that could occur with the purchase of this collection of fairy tales, not to mention the monetary savings and the gore free plots written and illustrated by Mary Engelbreit, this is one of the best investments a parent could make for their children.