Summer 2015 Fairy Tale Book Haul

Summer means travelling, and travelling means great excitement in the form of new bookshops! I’ve managed to acquire some interesting fairy tale books over the last few months, which I’d like to throw into the fairy tale blogosphere.
So without further ado, here is my summer 2015 fairy tale book haul (and yes, that is my Hello Kitty duvet in the background of all the photos. Sorry not sorry!)

1. East of the Sun and West of the Moon illustrated by Kay Nielsen

East of the Sun and West of the Moon Kay Nielsen

East of the Sun and West of the Moon Kay Nielsen
Front cover without dust jacket
East of the Sun and West of the Moon Kay Nielsen
Illustration from East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Publication date: 1976
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Where found: The Cottage Bookshop, High Wycombe

Kay Nielsen was one of the most notorious fairy tale artists. This book contains the title story, East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and five other stories all beautifully illustrated by Nielsen. As well as the gold inlay on the front cover, the inside covers are also painted with white and gold. Multiple full page colour images accompany each story.

2. My Own Fairy Book by Andrew Lang

My Own Fairy Book Andrew Lang

Publication date: Unsure exactly, but 1920-something.
Publisher: J. W. Arrowsmith
Where found: Kim’s Bookshop, Chichester

Andrew Lang collected folk and fairy tales from all over the world, and published them in his fairy books of different colours. But Lang was also a writer, and as the title says this book contains his own fairy stories. It has three sections. The first is a set of stories about a character called Prince Prigio, the second about a Prince Ricardo, and the third a Scottish fairy story called ‘The Gold of Fairnilee.’ These stories are longer than average fairy tales. More like novellas or novelettes or whatever people call long short stories these days.

My Own Fairy Book Andrew Lang
First page of Lang’s introduction

3. Czech Fairytales by Karel Jaromír Erben and Božena Němcová

Czech Fairytales
Publication date: 2007
Publisher: Vitalis
Where found: Vitalis shop in Prague (then I realised I didn’t have enough Czech crowns with me to buy it, so I got it online when I returned home!)

When it comes to European fairy tales, French and German stories are usually the most well-known. When I visited the Czech Republic, I found this and so was excited to discover some new stories. However, a lot of these contain similar elements to Grimm stories, since Germany is just over the border, but it’s interesting to see how the titles change and little details get altered in different countries.

Vitalis also publish books of Austrian and Jewish fairy tales, and other classic European childrens’ stories. Their books are available from their website, and in multiple languages.

It also has some lovely double page images:

Czech Fairytales
Illustration from ‘The Fire Bird and Red Fox’
Illustration from ‘The Three Spinners’ (aka. ‘The Lazy Spinner’)

4. The Folk Tales of Scotland by Norah and William Montgomerie

The Folk Tales of Scotland
Publication date: 2008
Publisher: Birlinn
Where found: Mum bought this in the Highlands a couple of years ago and forgot she had it. I came across it on her shelf and sneakily stole borrowed it.

This book has a selection of stories from all over Scotland, featuring a variety of mythical creatures. So far I have only read a couple, and I don’t recognise many of the others so I’m excited to read more and learn some new Scottish stories. It has lots of black-and-white illustrations, too, and is just an all-round nice looking hardback for any folklore bookshelf.

The Folk Tales of Scotland
Black and white illustrations for the story ‘The Well at the World’s End’

5. The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Mary Hoffmann and The Snow Queen by Sarah Lowes. Both illustrated by Miss Clara.

Miss Clara fairy tales
Publication dates: The Snow Queen – 2011, The Twelve Dancing Princesses – 2012
Publisher: Barefoot Books
Where found: Norfolk Children’s Book Centre stall at Mannington Hall, during their fairy tales day.

These fairy tales have each been beautifully retold into short chapter books, great for confident children who are looking for something a little heftier to read than the original stories. And Miss Clara’s illustrations are GORGEOUS. She is a French artist, who makes dolls and uses them to create images. You can find out more about her work here.

Also in this series is The Princess and the Pea, which I intend to obtain in the near future.
The Twelve Dancing Princesses
Inside cover of The Twelve Dancing Princesses. They gave each princess a name!
The Twelve Dancing Princesses
Illustration from The Twelve Dancing Princesses
The Snow Queen
Illustration from The Snow Queen

6. Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood by Helen Anderton and illustrated by Stuart Lynch

Publication dates: 2015
Publisher: Make Believe Ideas
Where found: The Works

Children’s books are so colourful! These little hardbacks are retellings written in short verses, and they shake each story up a little bit. In Rapunzel, the witch wants Rapunzel’s hair, so Rapunzel trades it for the prince and then the witch attends their wedding wearing a blonde wig. In The Ugly Duckling, the duck is called Ned and has a favourite sock which he travels with when looking for other swans.

In the back, they also have activities for children to complete after reading the story. These are great for reading groups or parents. I read both to my niece and she loved them, and insisted on completing all four activities in both books. They really got her invested in the stories.

The Ugly Duckling
Ned with his sock
The witch showing off her giant Rapunzel-hair wig

Also in this series is Rumpelstiltskin and Little Red Riding Hood, but these versions are much closer to the original tales and so not quite as quirky.

Rapunzel picture activity
The Ugly Duckling
The Ugly Duckling key words activity

7. Princess Stories by Geraldine McCaughrean and illustrated by Lizzie Sanders

Princess Stories
Publication date: 1998
Publisher: Transworld Publishers (Picture Corgi, now Corgi Childrens)
Where found: given to me by a friend, who found it when clearing out their house.

I was rather dubious about this at first, because on the surface it looks a bit damsel-in-distress-girly-bleh. But after a quick read through, it’s actually a lovely collection of princess stories from around the world. There are tales here I hadn’t heard of before, such as ‘Sumio Who Fell From the Moon,’ a Japanese story about a moon princess who falls to Earth and catches the eye of the Emperor. I also love the pastel tones the illustrations have. Very soothing to look at whilst reading.

Princess Stories
Contents page
Princess Stories
Illustration from ‘Sumio Who Fell From the Moon’

I think this lot will keep me reading until next summer, so perhaps I won’t buy any more books until then…. ha. Who am I kidding. The problem with buying books is that I just don’t have anywhere to put them. Sad face.

 Maybe I should build a bookcase out of books…
Has anyone else seen or read any of these? If so, let me know what you think in the comments. Also, if you’ve found any exciting books or other fairy tale paraphernalia this summer then I would love to hear about that as well!


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Amelia Starling is a writer and folklorist. She graduated from the University of Winchester with a degree in Creative Writing, and is Senior Editor for Folklore Thursday. She loves travelling and collecting stories, and spent 15 months living in Japan doing this alongside teaching English. Amelia blogs about folklore and fairy tales at The Willow Web. You can follow her on Twitter @amyelize.

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