Fairytales have a distinct place in history, are rooted in many of the books we still read, and can provide morals for the world. Along with picture books, I am a firm believer in the power of fairytales. I have loved reading tales from other cultures, twister versions of classics and sometimes the more gruesome the better. My son was recently encouraged by his teacher to read the original Grimm’s fairytales and I am wholeheartedly supporting this. They are fascinating and spooky!

This year I have been incredibly lucky to get my fairytale loving hands on rich, highly illustrated and fascinating books dedicated to Lost tales, forgotten tales, girl power tales and twisted tales. Some I have read on Netgalley while others I have kept for my children!

These are all incredible collections of fairytales, or variations of and would take pride of place in any class or library.

Forgive my ramblings….but let’s look at these wonders. Starting with Little Tiger’s The Lost Fairytales. It has a story map showing where these tales have come from and an incredibly well thought introduction to the book. Favourite line from the introduction is “And real girls don’t need to be rescued by anyone!”

Some of the tales have a familiarity to them, perhaps they are ones I have heard or read in some form before. They are short and can be enjoyed as a read aloud. They have clear cultural connections and are illustrated with such style and beauty. I couldn’t choose a favourite from this collection as they are vastly different, offering views from other countries and their rich storytelling histories. However, I have found myself drawn to The Songs of Liu. A couple make music together and transform into stone statues. It is wonderful. The beauty of this book shines bright.

Beautiful Collection Retold by Isabel Otter, Illustrated by Ana Sender
Published by Little Tiger

Usborne have produced a colourful book called Forgotten Fairytales of Brave and Brilliant Girls. This, too, has an incredible introduction with words of wisdom written by Kate Pankhurst. A very true statement from this book is “Stories die when they are not told”. In the case of fairytales, this is very true. Before we had books or writing tools, stories were passed down orally and kept alive by re-telling through generations.

Eight brilliant stories retold from Classic tales.
Retold by Susanna Davidson, Rose Dickins, Andy Prentice and Aron Lloyd Jones.
Illustrations by Isabella Grott, Alessandra Santelli, Maria Surducan
Published by Usborne

The girls in these tales think outside the “Princess” box, make brave and bold decisions and are not found waiting to be rescued but in fact, do the rescuing themselves. A powerful message to young girls of today! Some of the tales, again, have a familiarity to them. In place of Rapunzel locked in her tower, there is a sleeping prince. A princess fights her way to find him. They share dreams and when he wakes, they of course fall in love. These tales are slightly longer but are presented in an easy to read format, perfect for younger readers.

Written by Anita Ganeri, Illustrated by Khoa Le
Published by Arcturus

We talk a lot about girl power and being true to who you are as a woman but our old favourites still paint women as the weaker sex, the ones who must sit and wait for the prince to come rescue them. In the authors introduction, she explains that this is not that type of book- this is about women who are fierce, determined and active in changing their lives and the world around them. More often than not, they are braver, stronger and more powerful than the men in their stories. They are all truly excellent and I devoured them. They were well written, short but intense and I enjoyed the differences between cultures. I highly recommend anyone with a daughter to get this book and share it frequently. Girls are looking for more from their heroines now and this book delivers!

Written by Vita Murrow, Illustrated by Julia Bereciartu
Published by Lincoln Children’s Books

These are entirely familiar characters, and tales but retold with Princess Power. Thumbelina, Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood appear but they offer more to the reader than being weak, scared and tiny. Red Riding Hood becomes a member of the Wolf Response Team, rescuing wolves, Rapunzel becomes an architect and has her own company. I am a huge fan of twisting tales to suit a new audience and this book ticks a lot of boxes. It is interesting, representative and colourfully Illustrated. The cover design is simply stunning and the size is brilliant for little hands.

Hachette Children’s compiles extracts from Classic books in which girls “face up to fear and fight against unfairness”.
Illustrated by Nan Lawson

This book has been included in this post due to the link of girl power and stories with heroines and courageous girls. Instead of re-telling classic tales, Hachette have looked to the Classics and chosen particular scenes that would speak to girls and encourage them to be bold and fearless. From The Snow Queen to Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden. All of these stories have incredible female characters and they have bold and bright personalities.

A great set of scenes from some of my favourite Classic novels, this is a fabulous book to gift and read with daughters! And sons….as they too should be encouraged to read Classics and Fairytales!

Last but not least is Koshka’s Tales, Stories from Russia by James Mayhew

Published by Graffeg

I must admit that my interest in this is for a few reasons….1. James Mayhew will be visiting my town for an event sometime in November. 2. It looks incredible 3. Sophie Anderson and her love of Russian folklore has inspired me to read more.

The author’s note is at the back in this volume and is impeccably written. “Storytelling is an ancient art”. Perfectly said!

Reading these tales is like falling into an imagination. Full of colour, details and typical tale characters, such as Baba Yaga, they are entirely delightful. We meet Tsar Saltan, his wife and her scheming sisters. Filled with envy they do all they can to destroy their sisters reputation and world. The wife is clever and saves herself and last remaining son, sailing to an island where Koshka lives and begins the next tale.

It is beautifully illustrated and a dream to read and pore over. More to come on this delight as our Ipswich Children’s Book Group prepares to welcome James Mayhew to a special event!

More Tales, Tales and More Tales to come as I love all fairytales and we have many paths to take!

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