Al Bowley's Rumpelstiltskin has pointy ears and a crooked nose;
heís wearing a red cape, fur-trimmed boots, and a cone-shaped hat. R. Guntherís Rumpelstiltskin has a long beard and wears a
three-quarter length coat. His shoes have buckles and his hat has a feather in it. But of all the Rumpelstiltskins in this book of fairy tales, Warwick Gobleís is the most unusual. His red bodystocking is too long and covered with layers of raggedy cloth. Taller and leaner then the other Rumpelstiltskins, he also has a beard that flows past his waist, long protrusions coming out of his hat, and a skinny stick-like cane.
"Rumpelstiltskin," like so many other fairy tales, has been retold and illustrated by a variety of talented artists for more than one hundred years. In Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A Classic Illustrated Edition, artwork from the late 1800s and early 1900s illustrate fifteen retellings of Brothers Grimm fairytales.
The stories in this book range from two to twenty-two pages in length. They are quick to read, but the illustrations
happily delay turning the page. Seeing all the different artistic styles and media is just as fascinating as seeing the
range of visual interpretations of the characters and settings. The dwarves in
"Snow White" range from playful and innocent-looking to hardworking and haggard in appearance. While reading
"Sleeping Beauty," readers are treated to ten different artists' versions of the princess. W. Heath Robinson's Sleeping Beauty
has blonde hair. During her enchanted sleep, sheís seen lying on a four-poster bed in a dark room. Turn a couple pages, and Sleeping Beauty is shown with brown hair, sleeping in a bedroom of flowers and leaves. Previous to this page, Sleeping Beauty
is portrayed with black hair lying under a canopied bed in a room decorated in gold, red and green. As Sleeping Beautyís appearance changes on these pages, so does the appearance of the Prince, the forest, the spinning wheel and the fairies.
For me, these stories were familiar (except for a few details) but the illustrations were not.
To read these stories and see them alongside these early illustrations
is captivating. The illustrations bring originality, history and appreciation to these classic fairytales. The clothing, hairstyles and setting details reflect not only
each artistís imagination but also the passing of time. Itís been over one hundred years since M.S.J. created his lithograph of Cinderella, but seen today in this book, it still suits the story.
All the illustrations in this book make you think about another time, another place where animals and mirrors can talk, where spells are frequently cast, and endings are all happily ever after. This has become my favorite fairytale book.
With the last three pages devoted to acknowledgements, readers will know where to look for additional illustrations by a favorite artist. Where possible, the illustrator, the
original book and publication date are given for each picture.
Author and illustrator Cooper Edens is a collector of vintage picture books. He wrote the book
Santa Cows and wrote and illustrated the book If Youíre Afraid of the Dark, Remember the Night Rainbow. Heís also created several other books for the Classic Illustration Series including
Sea Stories, Princess Stories, and The Big Book of Little.