It’s time for fairy tales people. I have always loved them.
‘Edmund Dulac’s Fairy-Book-Fairy Tales of the Allied Nations’ has fairy tales from across the globe. I can’t tell you how much I loved this book. Every story is beautiful and simple. I had neither read nor heard of any of the stories before. It has 15 stories in all but I will try and summarize a few of them without spoilers.
A RUSSIAN FAIRY TALE
Marusha and Youshko are a very old couple who do not have any children and long for one. But they have resigned to their fate and accepted that they will never have a child. One fine snowy day, when they see all the neighboring children playing in the snow and making a big fat snowman, they go out and decide to have a little fun making a snowman as well. They find a secluded spot behind a tree and make a snowman just the size of a baby. Suddenly to their delight, the snowman turns into a beautiful girl. They decide to call her Snegorotchka as she was made from snow. She starts living with them as their own daughter.
A small and heartwarming story with a sad end.
THE BURIED MOON
AN ENGLISH FAIRY TALE
In my old Granny’s days, long, long–oh, so long ago, Carland was just a collection of bogs. Pools of black water lay in the hollows, and little green rivulets scurried away here and there like long lizards trying to escape from their tails, while every tuft that you trod upon would squirt up at you like anything. Oh! it was a nice place to be in on a dark night, I give you my word.
Now, I’ve heard my Granny say that a long time before her day the Moon got trapped and buried in the bog. I’ll tell you the tale as she used to tell it to me.
The people living in the area blessed the moon and held it in high regard as the moon showed them their way through the dreadful bogs at night. If not for the moon, they would never find their way out and would be lured by the sinister things at night into the bogs and to death.
On days where there is no moon, the villagers have a very difficult time. So one day, er night, the moon decides to descend down to the bogs and see for herself the problem the villagers faced. She covers herself with a dark cloak and walks into the bogs. Suddenly she starts sinking and how much ever she stuggles she is not able to get out.
The sinister forces of the bogs-the witch and her accomplices decide to finish off the moon as she is the one who does not allow them to come out on nights when she is shining brightly in the sky.
I loved this story. I couldn’t wait to see what happens next.
WHITE CAROLINE AND BLACK CAROLINE
A FLEMISH FAIRY TALE
This is a beautiful lyrical story.
Come, come, Caroline,
White, white, child o’ mine!
I hate you, HATE you,
And, at any rate, you
Are no child o’ mine!
Come, come, Caroline,
Black, black, child o’ mine!
I bore you, adore you,
Will give whatever more you
Want, O child o’ mine!
A woman has 2 daughters, both names Caroline. One was called white Caroline, because she was very white and very pretty and everyone loved her. But she was not the woman’s own daughter. The other one, was called the black Caroline because she was very ugly and everybody ran away from her. This enraged the woman very much and she devised various plans to kill white Caroline. But every time Black Caroline warned her and she was safe. Black Caroline falls sick and White Caroline runs away from the house.
This is another very cute story.
THE SEVEN CONQUERORS OF THE QUEEN OF THE MISSISSIPPI
A BELGIAN FAIRY TALE
Once upon a time there was a boy who was ambitious. One day he said to his mother: ‘Give me a muffin and patch my trousers, for I am going to set out to win the Queen of the Mississippi.’
The boy sets out to find the queen. He sees a man beneath a huge cross. The man draws his bow and arrow and hits the eye of a fly perched on the cross. The boy is so impressed that he asks the man to come along with. The man asks for something in return. The boy says you can have anything you want once I marry the queen. Similarly he asks 6 other men to accompany him to the queen’s castle.
A story with all the elements of a fairy tale, a man who can eat the whole earth, another one who can swallow an entire river and so on.
There are 14-15 stories in all. There is Italian, French, Russian, Serbian, Japanese and even a Chinese fairy tale. I love fairy tales and I think however old you grow you will never stop loving them. The language is simple yet beautiful. This book gives you a feeling of sitting in front of a fire and your grandmother telling you long lost tales. Tales that are as simple and as illogical as they can be. Tales of Serpents and crayfishes that can speak and of Princes who turned into doves. Fun and typical 🙂
I cannot pick one story out of the lot because I loved them all. This would be a great read on a cold wintry night snuggled in a warm blanket or on a gloomy rainy day or just any other time. It would be a great gift for children and adults alike.
I have used one of the images from Edmund Dulac’s site. There are other beautiful illustrations there. Do have a look.
I absolutely adore Dulac’s art, and somehow I didn’t know about this book! Must get my hands on it. Thanks for the review 🙂
My mother actually owns the original watercolor for White Caroline Black Caroline (left to her by a family friend who died 25 years ago or so), and although we were long familiar with many of Dulac’s more famous works, only today was I able to match it to that story. How nice to know that it still has an audience outside our home!
I am going to buy this book….it looks wonderful. 🙂
Nymeth: I don’t think I had heard his name before, i had seen his illustrations but the name didn’t ring a bell.
yay Michele: Hope you like it as much as I did.
Andrew: Art and the written word has a much larger influence than we can even imagine, isn’t?
On to the wishlist it goes! Thanks for the review, Violet!
Man you are really on a reading roll.. mera mood vaapis aya hai padhai ka.. so wait for a few more days and i’ll be dishin out reviews too 🙂
Where did you manage to get this book? Would love to read it.. mind lending it to me?
Hemanshu, I’ll mail you the details…waiting for your reviews 🙂