Off the Shelf: Grimm

A long time ago, I picked up a copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales at a used bookstore. The book looks really old, but there’s no copyright date printed anywhere. Amazon says it was pressed in 1945, but there’s no way to know if that’s true. Translated by E.V. Lucas, Lucy Crane, and Marian Edwardes and illustrated by Franz Kedel, it contains 55 tales by the G Bros.

You know how some books have two types of illustrations, black-and-white in-text illustrations and full-page color illustrations? The black and white illustrations are in line with the text and much smaller. The full-page color illustrations are much more detailed and they’re usually printed on thick or glossy paper that “catches” when you flip through the book with your thumb.

You’d think that the full-color illustrations would be of the more popular stories like Cinderella, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and Hansel and Gretel. Not here! The full-color illustrations are of more obscure tales — at least for most of us.

For example, here’s one of the illustrations for the story “Thumbling the Dwarf and Thumbling the Giant.” Yeah, I’d never heard of it either. It’s a strange story about a young dwarf who turns giant and goes around whacking people with sticks.

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Here’s another from The King of the Golden Mountain, a story about a young man who (because of an ill-fated promise) has to leave his family at age 12. The boy goes on to marry a princess and becomes the king of the Golden Mountain, but his crafty wife betrays him. The end of the story has the young king beheading everyone in his castle. Ew! (Love the little black dude’s shoes, though.)

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The only color illustration for a well-known fairy tale is the Frog Prince. Is it just me or does the king look like a clergyman? I love how insanely huge the frog is.

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The more recognizable stories all have black and white illustrations. Here’s Sleeping Beauty with the oogly-eyed witch.

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And here’s Snow White in her glass coffin. All the dwarves look eerily the same, though. Kind of like Oompa Loompas.

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And here’s Cinderella and her prince.

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I also liked this one of poor little Hansel and Gretel lost in the woods.

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But the best one has to be of Little Red Riding Hood getting eaten by the wolf.

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Is that not traumatic? This collection of fairy tales isn’t modified to spare kids’ tender feelings. These stories can be pretty raw and brutal. For example, RRH and her grandma do get eaten by the wolf. The huntsman slices the wolf’s belly and saves them, then fills the belly with rocks so the wolf dies. Do you remember that version? Yucky. But you can bet RRH learned her lesson.

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