Friday, September 7, 2012

Fairy tales

Waiting for me upon my return from a pleasant several day excursion was my copy of The Wonder Book of Fairy Tales, a facsimile of a 1917 collection of stories every child should know. It is nicely done.

The very first story begins:
NOT far from a large forest there once lived a poor woodcutter with his two children, a little boy named Hansel and a girl called Gretel. Hansel and Gretel loved each other dearly, and were never happy except when they were together.

All went very well in this little cottage near the forest, until one day the father brought home a wife, to be a mother to the children. She proved to be a cruel, heartless woman, and Hansel and Gretel lived in constant fear of her.

Now, it happened that soon after the stepmother came to live at the cottage, the woodcutter became very poor, and had nothing in the world he could call his own; indeed, he had scarcely bread enough for his wife and the two children to eat. And at last the time came when even that was gone, and he knew not where to seek for help in his need. As he lay in bed at night, turning this way and that, restless because of his trouble, he said to his wife:

"What will become of us? How shall we feed our children when we have no more than we can eat ourselves?"

"Ah," answered she, "I have a plan. We will lead them away, quite early in the morning, into the thickest part of the wood....
And after that story [which ends well] comes "Little Red Riding Hood," and later "The Three Bears" and "Aladdin, or the Wonderful Lamp," "The Ugly Duckling," "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," and many more. I can't imagine a better book to have around if you have children who are at the "read me a story" stage of life.

From the description:
The National Review Wonder Book of Fairy Tales is an near-exact reproduction of a beautiful—exquisite!—1917 volume of famous tales that entertained and instructed generations of children, before and since. We thought this classic book to be such a treasure, such a delight, in content and visually, that we decided to republish it, to afford today’s children the same joy as that experienced by young Americans nearly a century ago. ....
The Wonder Book of Fairy Tales can be purchased here.