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The Blue Fairy Book
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The fact that this series has endured to now is a testament to its quality.
As you read, you will discover fairy tales and myths from all over the world, including the well known writers such as Grimm, Andersen, Perrault, and Mme D'Aulnoy.
These are not the politically correct stories you might expect, and I believe you will find them useful whether it's for your own reading pleasure, of for passing on stories to children.
In fact, if you look beyond the surface of the story, there is a cautionary aspect for children who might get lost, and the evil characters they might meet like the wolf in sheep's clothing, or the boy who cried wolf, or the nice person who offers a gift, but is really a wicked queen in disguise.
There may be a young prince who helps a hairy man escape, and the king embarrassed and enraged orders the child to be killed. Naturally the woodsman slaughters an animal instead, and returns those to the king instead as evidence of performance of the deed.
There are stories of boys becoming men, being tested by the princess, and doing great deeds to prove their worth. Some characters are wicked and evil, and so the protagonist has to develop resources of their own to defeat the deceit, trickery, jealousy, ambition, and wickedness of the people they encounter.
I recommend you start with the blue book, because it has most of the best known stories, for example, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Bluebeard, Puss in Boots. You can check the contents of each book at mythfolklore, and even read the stories online.
If you are buying Lang, you need to know which publisher, because there are many editions through different publishers, some are good with nice print and pictures, others have small print and no pictures.
I highly recommend the Dover edition which has pictures and good size print. These pictures are black and white drawings. The Boomer books edition has good size print. If you want a durable hardcover library style book with a red string bookmark, I recommend the D N Goodchild books. Avoid the compilation book, and buy them individually.
One of my favorite stories not in this edition is The wooing of Olwen. It's unusually cruel and bloodthirsty from Wales and King Arthur's court.
I know you will enjoy these wonderful stories, and I hope this review was helpful.
Many readers who have only seen or read modern, Disney-fied versions of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty or Snow-White will not recognize some of the darker twists in these tales. For example, in Sleeping Beauty, when the Prince wakes the Princess and marries her, the story is by no means over. The Prince's mother is an Ogress, whom his father married for her wealth, and it's suspected that she likes to eat little children; that "whenever she saw little children passing by, she had all the difficulty in the world to avoid falling upon them". The happy couple have two children, named Day and Morning, and the Ogress decides to dine on them one day when the Prince is away. Yes, it still has a happy ending, but Disney it isn't.
The illustrations--8 full page, plus 130 smaller ones--are all from the original 1891 edition. They're black and white woodcuts; very atmospheric, and I think most children will like them.
The only thing that might have to be explained to a child is the occasional use of vocabulary that is no longer current. Most often this is the use of "thee" and "thou"; but a few other words will crop up. However, they're usually inferable from context, and the stories are marvellous entertainment regardless.