The tales in these two volumes include many of the fairy tale cannon and I assume that more volumes are in the works to cover others. Each volume follows a similar format: five tales retold by various authors in the mainstream American book world and illustrated in vibrant colors by artists from around the globe. The first volume includes “Cinderella,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Jack and the Beanstalk,”” Red Riding Hood,” and “Rumpelstiltskin” while “Rapunzel,” “Princess and the Pea,” “Thumbelina,” “Snow White,” and “Beauty and the Beast” comprise the second volume in the series. Each tale is accompanied by a full page source note or historical note regarding the tale making this series a valuable acquisition for school and public libraries as well as for storytellers of the old tales. The tales are all preceded with a cast of characters and in the first volume, but not in the second one unfortunately, was a one page “bridge between the tales” with a teaser: for example, “Once upon a time…Bread Crumbs and Candied Houses.” A glossy black two sided page divides the stories in the second volume.
Beth Bracken and Jeffrey Stewart Timmins (Canada) mesh elements from both the Perrault and the Brothers Grimm variants in their atmospheric reworking of “Cinderella.” This rendition does not owe anything to the iconic Disney machine as it is told mainly in shadows and shades of browns with the odd inclusion of reds and purples to great effect. “Hansel and Gretel,” retold by Donald Lemke and Sean Dietrich (United States), on the other hand, bursts off the pages in swirls of color and movement, huge eyes, and a surprisingly un-witchlike witch, in appearance only. Shades of green permeate “Jack and the Beanstalk” as retold by Blake A. Hoena and Richard Tercio (Portugal). The expressive faces brought all of the characters alive, including the poor old cow, in these frequently muddied, but effective, panels. The last two tales were retold by Martin Powell. “Red Riding Hood,” illustrated by Victor Rivas (Spain) provides a back story for the red riding hood made by Ruby’s loving grandmother and a truly evil wolf who is brought down, fittingly, by the heroine. I particularly loved the ending to this version of the story. Erik Valdez Y Alanis”s (Mexico) illustrations for “Rumpelstiltskin” included another truly evil looking villain but I was not fond of the depictions of the other characters rendered in exaggerated caricatures with a great deal of intense color. The truncated guessing game of Rumpelstiltskin’s name was disappointing to me as well since this was always my favorite part of the story.
Three authors retell the five tales in the second volume. Martin Powell, who told two in the first volume, retells “Thumbelina” and” Snow White.” Stephanie Peters tackles “Rapunzel” and “The Princess and the Pea” and Michael Dahl reworks” Beauty and the Beast.” Jeffrey Stewart Timmins’s illustrations for “Rapunzel” open this volume just as he did in the first volume. Several pages are dedicated to the story of Rapunzel before she was put in the tower and while the reason for the birth of her children is never mentioned, this rendition is fairly close to the traditional tale before it was sweetened for younger ears (and eyes). I did not think that the illustrations for this tale were as successful as those done for the previous volume although they are still fairly atmospheric. “Thumbelina” by Sarah Horne (United Kingdom) features madcap illustrations which fit well together with this rather wacky tale. Filled with color and light, the story evokes a feeling of light-heartedness in this otherwise collection of dark tales. The illustrations by Erik Valdez Y Alanis (Mexico) for “Snow White” are more successful than those he provided for “Rumpelstiltskin.” The introduction of the character behind the magic mirror is depicted with true horror as is the true nature of the evil queen. In this tale the queen and Snow White have not met before the queen attempts to end Snow White’s life and the dwarves do much more than attempt to protect Snow White from outside evil. “Beauty and the Beast,” illustrated by Luke Feldman (Australia), reminded this reader of a felt board retelling of the story in both the illustrations and the static text. Michelle A. Lamoreaux (U.S.A.) illustrated “The Princess and the Pea” with a great sense of fun and expressive facial features. The other princesses courted by the prince were delightful in their pettiness and demeanour.
Shivers, Wishes and Wolves (volume 1)
by Beth Bracken, Blake A. Hoena, Donald Lemke and Martin Powell
Art by Sean Dietrich, Victor Rivas, Jeffrey Stewart Timmins, Ricardo Tericio and Erk Valdex Y Alanis
Stone Arch, 2011
Publisher Age Rating: 10 +
Secrets, Monsters & Magic Mirrors (volume 2)
by Stephanie Peters, Martin Powell and Michael Dahl
Art by Jeffrey Stewart Timmins, Sarah Horne, Erik Valdez Y Alanis, Luke Feldman and Michelle Lamoreaux
Stone Arch, 2011
Publisher Age Rating: 10 +