'Great Swedish Fairy Tales' was given to me when I was eight years old…it’s definitely showing its age…if I had to save one book I own from my collection, this one might be it. It would be a fight to the finish between that and 'Canadian Wonder Tales'.
I was going to photograph my book for you, but then I found this site with perfect scans that will show you in so much better detail, the fantastic that is John Bauer’s art. Go see! There’s a ton more scans over there! I have the same reaction to his work now as I did when I was a child…he paints such a vivid world of enchantment and each illustration is more incredible than the last.
To a little girl growing up on Maui, nothing seemed more magical than the land of ice and snow and trolls and wondrous beasties (second time I’ve used that word this week for anyone keeping track). Perhaps that’s why I was equally entranced by the Moomintroll books as well.
To this day, all things Scandinavian just thrill me to the core. Take a peek and tell me 1) Have you read this INCREDIBLE book? and 2) Can you believe this art? I mean really, can you believe it?
“At night, Troll Mother would sneak out to get a whiff of coffee and bacon. If only the people hadn’t had dogs it might have been bearable. Troll Father became more cross and sullen as time went on. They carried their troll kettle between them on a pole. Troll Mother decided that here was the wife for her son.”
If you love children’s books, you must have this book in your life. YOU MUST. That’s all there is to it. I think I read it for an entire year straight when I was 8 years old. Right now this copy is available in hardcover for $14, and I think I’m going to get one and replace my old copy, which is really in pretty beat-up shape...it has food smudges all over it because I used to eat snacks and read it…
--When Mother Troll Took in the King's Washing, 'Great Swedish Fairy Tales'.
(UPDATE: I got so excited about this book, I forgot to say more about what the stories are like! Trolls, trolls, lots of trolls -- they're a standard in Swedish folklore. Changelings, brave princesses, intrepid youths, magical animals and good deeds being rewarded, typical fairy tale fare, but with an element of fun and humor that I find to be missing in a lot of Grimm and Andersen stories...)
(ANOTHER UPDATE: It appears that reviewers on Amazon have found that the art in 'Swedish Folk Tales' -- it's the same book as the one discussed in this post -- is the best reprinted edition. So get that one! If you click on the links above it will take you to 'Swedish Folk Tales' so don't be confused, it's the same book as 'Great Swedish Fairy Tales'!)
(Image credits for the various art scans: http://goldenagecomicbookstories.blogspot.com/search/label/John%20Bauer)