Who does not?
Yet, there are fairy tales and fairy tales.
So, Read Aloud Dad went on a mission to find the best illustrated and most attractive version of classic children's fairy tales.
Fairy tales are like a golden thread of childhood, they help to keep the magic robes of innocence on for as long as possible.
Many time-tested fairy tales often deal with darker elements of life, but that is one of their key attractions.
As parents, one of our principal duties is to ensure that our children grow up to become independent individuals.
Funnily enough, it is through the imaginary worlds of the Brothers Grimm, Master Charles Perrault and Hans Christian Andersen that our children get the first glimpse of the real imperfect world.
The real world, that we as parents are often afraid to show them.
Deficiencies of real life are best presented to children by proxy.
Through a dreamed-up world that exists behind a barrier. A security one-way mirror.
That's how we should think of fairy tale collections.
We can make sure that kids are able to look into this fairy tale world without feeling threatened - because the events are clearly happening in another world.
The stories need to be heard, the tales need to be told.
Our task is to find the best one-way mirror into this magic land.
I was looking for a classic fairy tale collection with mesmerizing and unforgettable visuals.
Knock on wood - I found it.
A Taste of Heaven
I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.
Vincent Van Gogh
Read Aloud Dad will not beat around the bush.
Scott Gustafson spent more than four years painting the seventy-five magnificent oil paintings that illustrate these ten well-loved fairy tales in the magnificent Classic Fairy Tales collection.
|Art by Scott Gustafson|
Yes, four years of painting to illustrate this magnificent, large-format book.
When you hold this collection in your hands, it becomes instantly clear why it took 50 months to finish the art.
The pictures are pure perfection, charming, colorful.
But that is also saying nothing.
On top of that, these illustrations are uniquely bewitching and esoteric.
|Art by Scott Gustafson|
This collection of best-loved fairy tales has a place in every child's home library as it will be visited and revisited and ... revisited.
Gustafson's selection includes the following tales:
1. Goldilocks and the Three Bears
2. Puss in Boots
3. Little Red Riding Hood
4. Snow White
5. Tom Thumb
6. Hansel and Gretel
7. The Frog Prince
10. Three Little Pigs
As we all know, the original versions of fairy tales are sometimes pretty brutal stuff.
The versions in this collection are toned down, yet they still contain some elements that could cause fright among more sensitive listeners.
Fortunately, any such passages are always at predictable points of the plot and these elements can easily be skimmed over depending on the age of the listener.
This Gustafson collection lies somewhere in the middle - between the completely sanitized Disney versions and the far-from-naive original texts of some fairy tales.
Perfect for creative reading aloud.
Proof In The Pudding
A story is told as much by silence as by speech.
Although we have had Classic Fairy Tales for more than a year, I introduced it slowly to my twins. In the beginning we mostly kept to their favorite Goldilocks and the Three Bears story.
|Art by Scott Gustafson|
Gradually, we ventured into new territory.
Puss in Boots, The Three Little Pigs and so on.
And every single time - the effect was the same.
My kids were like two deer staring into headlights.
This book simply mesmerized them.
After covering most of the stories over the past several years, this week I decided it was time for our first reading of Hansel and Gretel.
I knew that this complex story would have had a special impact on my twins, as they are mixed twins - a boy and a girl like the main protagonists.
They would clearly be surprised to hear the main plot elements: parents leaving children in the middle of the forest because of the family's poverty, the children's success in returning back home - only to be left again even deeper in the forest...
Then comes the incredible relief of finding a house made of sweets and candies in the middle of the woods, followed by the appearance of the wicked witch that imprisons Hansel and Gretel in order to feed them with a view of eating them.
This was going to be a big one.
I was sure they would immediately completely identify with Hansel and Gretel, so I was a bit worried about the more dramatic parts of the story.
How would they take it?
The story was a complete surprise to them.
The illustrations are out-of-this-world.
How did they take the references to starvation, to death, the witch planning to fatten up the kids to eat them?
They took it in their stride.
No special questions asked .... admittedly, I softened the wording and the harsher parts.
There will be a time for a full rendition of the story, but the drama is evident in the pictures anyhow.
Since our first reading of Hansel and Gretel, my kids have been "pestering" every day me for a re-read for the past two days.
There is no need to rush.
Some stories work their magic even when they are not being read.
They linger in the back of your mind.
They provoke new thoughts.
They stimulate curiosity.
What is clear is that after we read all ten fairy tales many times, some things will never change.
Scott Gustafson's Classic Fairy Tales will undoubtedly be a big hit in our library for many years to come.
Classic Fairy Tales and Gustafson's books are available from bookstores in the US:
The Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)
and other countries: