Swedish Fairy Tales

September 20, 2012

_DSC0022Oh friends…I share only what I’m really excited about, but I feel like I might have done you a disservice with all my bouncing around and yelling about books – how will you know which ones I’m really, really, REALLY keen on? The ones you MUST OWN? The ones you will remember FOREVER?

'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.”
--When Mother Troll Took in the King's Washing, 'Great Swedish Fairy Tales'.
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…

(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)




23 comments:

  1. Goodness, that book looks INCREDIBLE! What age do you think it's best for? You mentioned that you read it when you were 8, is that a good starting place?

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  2. When I was creating this post, I went through several stories and re-read them -- I think I could be reading these out loud to Julia now -- I think depending on your kiddo's attention span, 5 and a half would be the very earliest I'd start it. There's about 10 pages of text per story with one or 2 pictures per story -- the language isn't terribly difficult. I read it on my own when I was 8 but I was kind of ahead with my reading. Now that I've gone and pulled it out, I might go ahead this winter (gotta get thru all the Halloween material first!) and try reading a few to her...:)

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    1. I'm definitely getting the hardback edition -- my poor book is so smudgy!! And the front cover is torn :(

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    2. And Julia will need her own copy someday! :)

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    3. Andrew and I are now currently engaged in a 'Discussion' as to whether we need a new copy -- I say yes! But I'll also hold onto the one I have, mildew spots and food smudges and all, because my dad wrote in it for me :)

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    1. I've seen few equals to his vision of fairy tale land...:)

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  4. Wow that book looks fantastic. I would totally get the new hard copy as well. No discussion! And what if it becomes out of print? No, you must get it!

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    1. I'm so pleased to see that new hardcover copies are available -- there are so many great books that are out of print and I cannot fathom why -- if some of the lost greats were reprinted, I think they would fly off bookshelves..(or at least I would buy them when I could!)

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  5. Oh this is fantastic, and right up my alley. My daughter is still very young, but I always wonder which books I would want her to read as she grows up. I grew up pretty fast. I was already reading Agatha Christie and young adults at nine years of age, but I def. want her to pace herself and learn about magic and folklore stories around the world. I will get it!

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    1. Oh Miss Patricia, that makes me so happy to know that this book will be in your life. I have purchased several special books for Julia that are too advanced for her, but they will be on the bookshelf waiting for her...I had a stunning realization the other day that some books I had been saving since she was a toddler -- she is now ready for!

      I read a crazy thing when I was little. Mostly I read the standard greats, Oz, fairy tales, Narnia, Little House on the Prairie etc etc -- and somehow when I was 9 or 10 I read 'The Omen', you know, like the horror film? ??? How did that even happen? I have no idea. Scared myself silly.

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    1. you would loooooove this book Leanne.....:)

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  7. do not DARE replace your old copy!! those food stains are your life!!
    i am ordering this book right now. i am obsessed with all your book pins on pinterest. you are like the book fairy.
    in fact you should open a business where you sell all of these old books and call yourself the book fairy.
    do it immediately.

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    1. Darling Jenny! No replacing! I will keep that one forever. I just might also get a cleaner version to keep in addition, which is just par for the course with a book junkie like me -- I think I have at least 5 versions of 'Peter Pan'...

      OMG. The Book Fairy. I LOVE IT. My dream is to someday have my own bookshop. Or become a librarian. No joke. If I could do a life do-over, I'd have skipped law school and gone to librarian school instead...

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  8. You've sold me! So I want to know the back story of how this book came to be in your life- it was given to you when you were eight, by your father. Is there more to the story?

    Side note here. as I was looking at it on amazon I noticed a review that said you should not get this copy but Swedish Folk Tales instead. The reviewer said the books contain the exact same stories and illustrations but that the one titled Folk instead of Fairy is a better reprint- clearer pictures and better paper. I wonder if that's true...

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    1. Nope, no back story -- my dad just gave me some rad books, and he's a believer in giving books as gifts -- which when I was little I wasn't too jazzed about, but now I'm the same way! An aunt gave me the Anne of Green Gables series and it was the best gift of my life!

      I would believe that review, some of those Amazon reviewers are sharp as tacks in their knowledge of reprints and whatnot. I think I'll go change my link to that other one!

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  9. Wow! The artwork is incredible. It just glows!

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    1. Yes, yes very glowy art style -- somewhat akin to Sulamith Wulfing in that aspect, her work is very glowy as well...

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  10. Looks fantastic--who is the person who gave you all these wonderful books when you were a child? Your mother? I'm curious--they seem to have had a keen eye for beauty and great books. How wonderful that you had this book as a child--I think I would have loved it. :)

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    1. It was my father! Which is one of life's enduring mysteries, b/c he and I have always had a challenging relationship and I was always closer to my mother. But he did/does have very good book taste, and gifted me with this, and Uncle Wiggly, and the Mother West Wind books, as well as Canadian Wonder Tales. He loves classic books and liked to pass on his copies of his own childhood books, like Hans Brinker and Treasure Island.

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  11. Oh, I remember Hans Brinker! (Although I can't remember if he was an author or the little boy with the old skates?) I have to get this too, and endure my husband reading through our visa bill in a month and saying "do we REALLY need all these books?" I was just wondering whether to get the folk or fairy tales, so thanks for the update!

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    1. tee hee, Hans Brinker is the boy in the story with the skates :)

      We have the same problem!! Some women buy handbags and shoes. I buy books.

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