review; fairy tales from the brothers grimm

Title: Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version
Author: Philip Pullman
Pub. Date: November, 2012
Summary: Two hundred years ago, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first volume of Children’s and Household Tales. Now, at a veritable fairy-tale moment—witness the popular television shows Grimm and Once Upon a Time and this year’s two movie adaptations of “Snow White”—Philip Pullman, one of the most popular authors of our time, makes us fall in love all over again with the immortal tales of the Brothers Grimm.

From much-loved stories like “Cinderella” and “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Rapunzel” and “Hansel and Gretel” to lesser-known treasures like “Briar-Rose,” “Thousandfurs,” and “The Girl with No Hands,” Pullman retells his fifty favorites, paying homage to the tales that inspired his unique creative vision—and that continue to cast their spell on the Western imagination.
Genre: Fantasy, Anthology

I finished Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm last night and I’ve been chewing over this review since then. The summary isn’t exactly correct: Pullman collected his favorites, but apart from a few tiny details, he left the stories intact. Being a Pullman newbie (Matt’s determined to get me to read His Dark Materials and I swear I will!), this wasn’t the best way to get a feel for his writing.

I’ve struggled in the past with reviews, but this one takes the cake. I’m seriously at a loss here, guys.

Pullman shares the tale and at the end lists the ATU class, similar tales, the source (more often than not, a family friend of the Grimms told the tale), and then gives his thoughts. This I enjoyed immensely! The reader is provided a little peek into Pullman’s mind as he discusses the moral of the story or, in some cases, why he wholeheartedly disagreed with the judgement passed (be it punishment or reward). Also, for the few stories he expanded on, Pullman explains his addition and what it brought to the story.

Admittedly, many of these fairy tales were completely new to me. I obviously was familiar with the well-known tales (Snow White, Rapunzel, Rumplestiltskin), but there were countless others I had the pleasure of reading for the first time (The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers, The Singing Bone).

While reading, I quickly came to the conclusion that this is not a book to be read in a sitting. It needs to be chipped away at a little at a time and over the course of far more than a weekend. By the halfway mark I was getting a little bored with the repetition: unequivocally good farmer/miller/soldier is sent away from his home, meets up with a witch/giant/the Devil, passes multiples tests of bravery and strength, and is rewarded with the hand of a princess.

And guys, if insta-love is not your thing, stay away. Seriously.

That said, the fairy tales in this book were the absolute perfect length. I think only one or two were longer than ten pages, with the majority being around 5. This made reading on my lunchbreak/during commercials very easy and led to me finishing the book much sooner than I had expected.

Fans of the recent surge in popularity of shows like Grimm & Once Upon a Time will be sure to enjoy this book as well as fairy tale newbies (is there such a thing??) Pullman’s collection features an excellent variety of stories and there’s something in it for everyone. Tales of revenge, love, murder, hope. Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm is a book that’s sure to be cherished and revisited for years to come.


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