While Grimm’s fairy tales are usually grim, gory, and often unsettling, at least their stories are known to have some sort of happy ending. Andersen was not one to grant such joy to his heroes and heroines, no matter what Disney tries to tell you in their version of The Little Mermaid. In fact, some of Andersen’s stories can double for a script of an episode of the Twilight Zone, like the three presented in this collection of tales adapted to graphic novel format.
This slim volume presents the story of The Red Shoes, which tells us of Karen, a poor girl who loves to dance barefoot. When her mother passes, Karen goes to live with an affluent aunt who immediately insists Karen wear proper shoes while living in her household. This spoiling leads to Karen’s infatuation with the titular red shoes which compel her to dance constantly, often into harm’s way. Karen’s aunt tries to hide the shoes but Karen begins to obsess over them, leading to an eerie conclusion in which her feet are chopped off at the ankles.
There is no gore in this scene, which makes it safe for children’s collections. However, the artwork itself is a curiosity. The characters show little expression, even in instances of great sadness, distress, or, yes, dismemberment. Still, the drawings have a nice texture to them which make them appear as if they are painted on an old parchment. The colors used are limited, dark, and muted, adding to the somber tone of the tales. On the other hand, the characters have large, manga-like eyes, which don’t quite fit with the rest of the art. Another qualm is that the margins are huge, leaving a lot of wasted space on every page.
In addition to The Red Shoes, is The Glass Case, a short and creepy tale involving a boy who is bullied for his love of dolls, as well as Andersen’s piteous story, The Little Match Girl.
The Red Shoes and other tales
Publisher Age Rating: 8-12 Years