Category Archives: fairytales

Princess Hyacinth: The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated

By Florence Parry Heide, Illustrated by Lane Smith

Schwartz & Wade Books, 2009

Princess Hyacinth had a problem. Well, you’re saying, everyone has a problem. But this was an unusual problem. Oh, she didn’t look unusual, that wasn’t it. She had two eyes, with a nose between them and a mouth under that — you know, the usual things in the usual arrangement…So what was the problem?

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Grandmother’s Pigeon

pigeon

By Louise Erdrich, Illustrated by Jim LeMarche

Hyperion Books for Children, 1996

As it turned out, Grandmother was a far more mysterious woman than any of us knew. It was common knowledge that she had trained kicking mules. We’d often heard how she had skied the Continental Divide. I was with her myself once when she turned back a vicious dog by planting herself firm in its path and staring into its eyes.

I have always been fond of books which start in media res. But let’s just cut to the chase, shall we? Erdrich rocks. Continue reading

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Leaf

leaf

Ideas, sound effects and pictures by Stephen Michael King

Roaring Book Press, 2008

No running text in this small book, just the occasional sound effect — the snip, snip of a mother’s eager scissors, the pitter, patter, splot of  a trickling shower. But the gorgeously simple drawings do a fine job of telling the story. Continue reading

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Arthur and Guen

arthur

By Jon Koons, Illustrated by Igor Oleynikov

Dutton Children’s Books, 2008

In the days of old, long, long ago, there were kings and knights and castles. There were princesses and dragons. There was heraldry and magic. And there was a boy named Arthur…

Here’s proof (yet again) that you can so judge a book by its cover. The phrase, “An original tale of Young Camelot,” just seals the deal for me. Continue reading

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The Well at the End of the World

well

By Robert D. San Souci, Illustrated by Rebecca Walsh

Chronicle Books, 2004

The King of Colchester was a kind and just man, but not a very good ruler. Oh, he did fine dubbing knights or deciding what to have for dinner. But it was his daughter, Princess Rosamond, who really ran the kingdom. She advised her father on matters of state, kept the royal accounts, and fixed the drawbridge when it wouldn’t rise or lower. People often said it was a shame she wasn’t beautiful, too. But practical Rosamond would just laugh and say, “I prefer good books to good looks. I may not be pretty, but my father’s treasury is in order, the drawbridge works, and I’ve almost saved up enough for a new set of royal dishes!”

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The Curious Garden

curious

By Peter Brown

Little, Brown Books, 2009

There once was a city without gardens or trees or greenery of any kind. Most people spent their time indoors. As you can imagine, it was a very dreary place. However, there was one boy who loved being outside…

I’m calling this book an “eco-conscious fairytale.” Granted, these pages (printed on recycled paper, mind you) contain no princesses, princes, wicked witches or dragons, but there is one very kind, determined boy who finds beauty where others do not. And there is a patch of curious green plants in need of rescuing. And as in all fairytales, there is a city (er, kingdom) where the inhabitants are in desperate need for an imaginative leader who will transform their dreary world. So…eco-conscious fairytale it is. With sparse, elegant prose and vivid illustrations that are difficult to look away from, Brown tells the story of little Liam, who begins nurturing a long-forgotten garden. Because of his efforts, the plants and flowers spread across his city, magically affecting everything and everyone in their path. A fabulous reminder to go play in the mud.

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