I have a confession to make. I have somewhat of a collection of children’s fairy tale picture books.
Is that strange for someone who doesn’t have kids?
I love fairy tales, tall tales, folklore, classic lit, and all that geeky stuff. But I think looking at illustrations of these stories is just as entertaining as reading them. The ways in which different artists portray the characters and scenes can really knock me out.
I confess that my little collection is comprised almost solely of library discards that I picked up at used bookstores and Friends of the Library shops, so most of them are pretty beat up. But that’s totally OK with me. I’m not planning to sell them for a profit on eBay or anything, and all I’m interested in are the illustrations.
Here’s one of my favorites: Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, translated by Anthea Bell and illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger. (Discarded by Santa Maria Library.)
I know that professional illustrators and literature professors probably study this kind of thing — and if you haven’t checked out SurLaLune’s website and blog, you really should! — so I do not pretend to be an expert. But aren’t these illustrations breathtaking?
Here’s the little mermaid all lonely and wishing for legs.
Here are the mermaids taking a very adventurous trip to land.
Here’s the bug-eyed sea witch!
Here’s the human-ified little mermaid with that clueless prince.
And here’s the miserable mermaid on her last tragic night as a human.
The Little Mermaid is a pretty haunting story, and Zwerger’s illustrations bring it home.
Am I the only one with a children’s book obsession? Is there a support group out there? Thanks for bearing with me as I crochet my way through it.