Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Three classic fairy tales get a gorgeous retelling with fabulous illustrations, reissued by Sterling Publishing

It's not always easy to pick the best version of a classic fairy tale from the multitude of versions available. How could we possibly recommend the best to you when we've seen so many different ones.

Well, simple answer is we can't but we can definitely shout about these versions from Sterling Publishing, reprinted for 2015.

First we'll take a look at Jack and the Beanstalk from John Cech and Robert Mackenzie.

The classic story of a young boy, Jack, who never quite gets things right. He always comes back from market with the wrong items but when he comes back with a handful of magic beans instead of money for the family's beloved cow, it's the last straw for his mum who throws the beans out of the window.

The next morning a huge beanstalk stands proudly in the garden, and against his mother's pleas, Jack climbs up to the top to investigate. What he finds aren't tasty beans for the family's evening supper but a mysterious castle inhabited by a nasty evil giant.

The giant's diminutive wife takes pity on Jack and feeds him but her hubbie comes home and throws a massive tantrum until he's absolutely satisfied that no humans are lurking around ready to steal his golden egg-laying goose, his beautiful singing harp or his infinite sack of gold.

Pretty sure you know how the story goes from there. This version comes with the most glorious illustrations to really bring the story to life.

Once again from John Cech, with illustrations this time by Fiona Sansom is the Sterling version of "Rapunzel". The tale of a young girl who is given up by her parents after a rather tricky deal with an evil witch. Their precious child is whisked off to a distant tower in the forest and brought up as Rapunzel by the witch.

Cut off from the outside world, Rapunzel's life doesn't seem too bad until she meets a handsome Prince who discovers the hidden tower. Falling in love, the two plot Rapunzel's escape but when the witch discovers the ruse, she plays a horrific trick on the Prince. Will the two ever live happy ever after?

The original story that Disney have taken and turned into a smash-hit movie (Tangled) is more enchanting in its original form. Exquisite and luxurious illustrations make this a fabulous version of the tale that may even win your weeny ones away from Disney's version.

Last but by no means least, John Cech teams up with Kirill Chelushkin for a touching and heartfelt version of "The Elves and the Shoemaker" - the classic tale of an old couple who work their fingers to the bone struggling to make ends meet in their tiny cobbler's shop. One night, exhausted, the old man lays out the materials for shoemaking the next day but when he awakes, he finds the most gorgeous pair of shoes waiting for him.

A rich merchant buys the shoes and declares they're the best pair he's ever worn. Once again the old man lays out more leather for two more pairs of shoes, and once again his mysterious nocturnal helpers willingly oblige. It's only when the man and his wife hide one night to catch their helpers in the act that it becomes apparent that two raggedy elves with deft fingers are responsible for the mysterious footwear.

Again, as with the other two books, glorious vibrant artwork makes this an absolute winner.

If we had to choose between all three books (and there are many more in Sterling's fairy tale range), I think we'd both agree that we loved "Jack and the Beanstalk" best - a great opportunity for me to put on my biggest booming giant voice!

All three books are available now from Sterling Publishing.

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