My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Picking up some fairy tales, huh?” said my friend Eli, the proprietor of my favorite bookstore, as I sidled up to the cash register.
“Yeah, I’m taking the kids camping, and they aren’t quite old enough to read Poe to at the campfire. Proper fairy tales seem about right though, but I’m looking for the real ones — translations, you know. None of that sanitized Disney stuff. You think either of these books will work?” At that point my six kids were ages twelve and under.
Eli grinned at me and checked the two books in my hands. “You don’t want those. Come here; I’ll show you the book you want.”
That was how I came to own this version of the Complete Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm. Eli was right; it is the version I wanted. These tales are so much more entertaining and rich than the happily ever after renditions that seem ubiquitous in children’s picture books and popular films. The first night camping I read several to the kids and to my in-laws who had come with us. The kids, Uncles, aunties – all loved it (not so sure Grandma appreciated it), and now the kids insist that I drag it out again every time we camp and even the adults ask me if I’m bringing it along.
The kids’ favorites are A Tale About the Boy Who Went Forth to Learn What Fear Was, Rumpelstiltskin, and How Some Children Played at Slaughtering. That last one slightly horrifies me, actually, but the kids think it’s hilarious. I append my own dictum, “NEVER DO THAT because I’ll cry forever,” to the end, which seems to amuse them even more as they roll their eyes and immediately request another story.
These stories will not appeal to everyone. If you worry a lot about kidnappers, trampolines with no nets on them, people who ask too many questions, or your children getting the idea that cutting off their toes to fit into a fancy shoe to impress a prince is a great plan, you will probably hate these. Why do I like them? They are seedlings of imagination that plant in your brain and grow into all sorts of wonderful, bizarre things. They inhale the wild, weird beauty of this world and exhale wonder. They tell of a world that never was yet feels just as familiar as our own.