It was after reading The Uses Of Enchantment that I knew it was time to get our own edition of the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales. They are definitely something every home should have but more, to be honest, I relished the idea of reading something a bit grisly. It’s the Summer holidays and I’m at home with four kids. What can I say, I’m sick of kind and gentle. So I ordered this lovely Taschen collection. (I heard of it from Danzel at Silver Shoes and Rabbit Holes who know a LOT about fairy tales.)
And when I read aloud the end of Snow White, where the wicked Queen was forced to wear red hot iron shoes (and dance whilst wearing them at Snow Whites wedding!) until she died, I knew I had done the right thing. My eight year olds' response was to find an "even scarier" story to read next. As well as that this edition gives some interesting background on the brothers Grimm and the various illustrations of the stories since the early nineteenth century.
For a start, the tales were'nt just for children, they were for everyone, and they did'nt come from the Grimm brothers imaginations, the first collection was the result their documentation of German folk tales (strictly speaking not even German, as the country wasn’t united at the time, that geographical area was made up of many small states) which until then had only been passed from generation to generation orally. That was all they meant to do – just get onto paper this rich tradition before it was forgotten. But just as academics, not really to sell books or gain fame. Their first edition was only expected to be read by adults. But as we know now, it was the kids who really loved the stories. Which in turn led to illustration (usually one per story) which in turn led to the idea that stories with pictures for children was really a very good idea.
In this Taschen edition, the illustrations(way more than one per story, but the way) in date from the 1820’s to the 1950’s. They are all beautiful in hugely different ways and the book at around €20.00 is well, well worth it. It’s worth way more, actually.
The only criticism I would have is that the cloth cover is purple, and the illustration chosen for the front of it is Sleeping Beauty, which makes the whole book look girly, for want of a better word. Which is unfortunate for those little boys who would love it but may never be given it and for the publisher who surely would sell more if the cover appealed to both genders. I don’t think the cover needs a picture at all, the gold embossed print is magical enough.