The classic fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen have a very special place in my heart as I can remember both my Mum and my Grandma reading to me from hardback books these timeless stories. I was over the moon to find out that Parragon have printed a hard bound treasury of Andersen's most famous stories so that I could share the tales with my girls.
This beautifully illustrated collection of fairy tales comes in an absolutely stunning cloth-effect hard cover with sparkly silvery foil detail around a beautiful picture of a swan (who features in several of Andersen's tales). The book is itself something to remember.
Inside there are 8 of Hans Christian Anderson's most well known stories; The Little Mermaid, The Emperor's New Clothes, Thumbelina, The Princess and the Pea, The Fir Tree, The Nightingale, The Snow Queen and The Steadfast Tin Soldier.
Holly had already been enjoying the tale of the Emperor's New Clothes from a picture book we have so she listened intently as I read to her from the book - I think she discovered and understood a lot more about the meaning behind the story. The stories have been "retold" in that they aren't exactly the same as the original translated text but they are very close and capture all of the magic and intrigue of Andersen's story-telling. The stories aren't rushed, and are full of rich scene-setting which I think is often missing in simpler re-telling of the classic fairy tales - The Princess and the Pea for instance, takes up around 26 pages of of text and illustrative plates.
Lara's favourite story is The Nightingale which is the tale of a beautiful bird whose song brings happiness to an oriental emperor, but captivity causes the bird to cease her captivating song. When I read it to Lara she really disappears into the story with big wide eyes.
My favourite Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale in the book is the story of the tin soldier - the sad tale of a lost toy who goes through all sorts of stresses and unwanted adventure. The story is slightly magical when you read it - with several places where it is hard to explain what's happening. In the end, the story of The Steadfast Tin Soldier centres around the mysterious unspoken love between a moulded tin soldier and a pretty little dancer. I've always found it to be a tragic tale.
This hardback edition of The Fairy Tales of Hans Christian Andersen is a beautiful book that I hope will become a family favourite.
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