Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fairy Tales for Young Readers (review)

Fairy Tales for Young Readers
Author: E. Nesbit
Publisher: Dover Publications (Jan. 14, 2015)
Review copy courtesy of NetGalley

When I was young, I remember reading and listening to a few of the wonderful children's books by English author, E. Nesbit, so I was intrigued to see that a book was being republished of her classic fairy tales interpretations. I expected to enjoy them, but I had forgotten what an influence she had been on writers such as P. L. Travers (Marry Poppins), C.S. Lewis (Narnia books) and J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter books), all of whom echo at times her wry, clever humor. I recommend that parents read these aloud to their children, as there is as much for adults to enjoy as for the children, and both will delight and laugh in the imagery and wit.

As I read through the stories, I kept stopping and reading passages to my wife, so I thought I'd share a couple that I shared with her.

From the middle of Cinderella:
For in those days shoes were not sold ready-made in shops, but were made specially to fit the people who were to wear them. And besides, the glass slipper was magic, and so had too much sense to have fitted any one but its owner, even if the country had been full of shops selling Rats' Ready-made Really Reliable Boots.

From the beginning of Jack the Giant-Killer:
In the long-ago days of King Arthur, who invented round tables, there was a sort of plague of giants in the West Country-just as nowadays there are plagues of wasps, and mosquitos, and millionaires, and the giants threatened to spread, like other plagues, till they had eaten up all the nice, proper-sized people in England.

While a few words may seem unfamiliar or antiquated, by and large the stories are timeless and charming. I strongly recommend these to both adults and children. They will remind you that children's literature can be so much richer than Captain Underpants without being boring or irrelevant to modern children.

Five out of five stars!

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