April 25, 2016

the twelve dancing princesses

Hello sweet friends! I've been wanting to talk about this book for two years now. I am so very very slow. Why am I so slow? Who knows? Apparently it takes me two years to get things done. I think I mentioned some time back, that two Christmases ago, we gave Julia 'The Twelve Dancing Princesses' by Mary Hoffman and illustrated by Miss Clara. She also received 'The Snow Queen', which is gorgeous as well. But this particular fairy tale is one of my great favorites and I'm particularly keen for you all to see this rendition of the story.

It's a paperback, (it also comes in hardcover) but with a nice sturdy thick cover. And what I really love about it is that inside the front cover, there's a small circle illustration, with a picture of each princess inside, with her name written underneath. The princesses are named after flowers - Violette, Delphine, Iris, Jessamine, Lilou, Veronique, Vervaine, Eglantine, Amarante, Marguerite and Rose. And Amandine (French for almond, and there's a reason why the last princess is given this name).

I'm not sure why this fairy tale has always appealed to me so much. I think it's because there's SO MANY princesses in the story. And because the hero is a broken down poor soldier. And because there are forests of silver. And diamonds. It's just a charming story that I've always loved, and Mary Hoffman's retelling is put into chapter form, and told in such a way that it will appeal to readers aged 6-10. It's a short little story, but the true magic of this book is what the artist, Miss Clara, has done with the illustrations.

We need to have a big 'ol conversation about Miss Clara. And by big I mean one paragraph down below, because I'm writing this at night and I'm falling asleep. But let me stress - this artwork is some of the most clever and detailed and intricate and gorgeous you'll ever see.

Miss Clara's art is so exquisite, I think she must be part fairy, to make the creations she does. She makes actual models and sets, photographs them, and then further manipulates her images in Photoshop. You can read more about her artistic process here, and you can see her blog here. I think her work is totally unique and incredibly beautiful - I included lots and lots of photos today because I wanted you to see so much of her enchanting scenes. I'm just floored by what she creates.

I have to pause and give a little shout out to my husband's mother, who planted some lily-of-the-valley for us last year. This year we were rewarded with beautiful blooms that I collected and put into a tiny little vase. Don't they look like little fairy bells?

And I have to also say thank you-high five to my mother, who bought the fan you see in the pictures. She got it for Julia and we're both totally in love with it. Also, she gave me the beautiful little ceramic box you see in some of the photos - I've had it since my teen years - and also the lovely embroidered sheet. Basically, today's post has been sponsored by lovely grandmothers!

Fairy tales are my favorite, that's never been a secret around here. I never tire of seeing innovative ways of bringing them to life through new books. You should seek this one out, as well as 'The Snow Queen', as well as anything else Miss Clara has created. She's AMAZING.


  1. We have both of these, and they are indeed beautiful! You photographed this one perfectly.

    1. Yessssssss! I know you're a fan as well! So did you ever follow Stephanie's blog Millefuilles? She doesn't blog anymore, sadly. She makes handmade, hand sewn, hand crocheted beautiful stuffed animals that she sells, she has a Facebook page that she updates with new offerings. ANYWAY - she said there is the most GORGEOUS Miss Clara book, I forget which fairy tale or maybe it's a collection of some kind? But it's all in French. Sounds amazing though!

    2. I seem to remember these comments somewhere.

      Some French books: http://www.amazon.fr/Miss-Clara/e/B004MQ0MME/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1


  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Oooooohhhh!!!! this looks so haunting and lovely! Thanks for showing me this! I hate to admit it but...I dont know this fairytale!!

  4. Replies
    1. so pretty this book! you'll have to seek out for your girls when they are teensier bit bigger!