Monday, March 7, 2011

Mother Holly by John Warren Stewig and illustrated by Johanna Westerman

Mother Holly

Mother Holly by John Warren Stewig and illustrated by Johanna Westerman is today's picture book. Mother Holly (Frau Holle, Mother Holle, etc.) is a Grimms' tale that isn't as well known to casual fairy tale readers these days. When they read it, many consider it a Cinderella tale, which it is very similar to, but it is actually of the Diamonds and Toads family, ATU 480. There will be a Diamonds and Toads collection published from SurLaLune later this year, by the way, and I wrote an article on the tale for Faerie Magazine last year which appeared in Issue 20.

But back to Mother Holly. I am sentimentally attached to this picture book--and it is out of print like so many but easy to find used, just follow my links--because it is how I introduced my eldest niece, Leighton, to the tale years ago. She wasn't even quite at the age where sitting for the longish text was quite conceivable, but she sat through it and begged to hear it again and again. So I became quite familiar with this retelling by Stewig along with Westerman's illustrations. There aren't many picture book versions of this tale for English readers, and this is the most readily available one, so this certainly has a treasured spot on my shelves.

Book description from the publisher:

Two sisters--kind, industrious Rose and vain, lazy Blanche--experience two very different adventures when each tumbles down a well and into the magical world of Mother Holly. Rose's journey begins accidentally, but because of her generosity to all she meets along the way, and her hard work for ugly but kind Mother Holly, she returns home in a shimmering gown covered in gold. Envious of Rose's good fortune, Blanche decides to visit Mother Holly herself, but her pride, laziness, and foul temper earn her an apt and well-deserved punishment. John Warren Stewig's retelling of this little-known tale by the Brothers Grimm offers children a satisfying new ending that demonstrates how with help, redemption is possible. And Johanna Westerman's lovely, intricately detailed illustrations, as spellbinding as Mother Holly's magic door, are pure enchantment.
And now for the illustrations:



  1. These are gorgeous illustrations, wow.

  2. Thank you for featuring my Mother Holly illustrations on your blog. What a treat to find them. Thank you for your kind words, as well. This book took me four years to complete!
    Johanna Westerman