After a longstanding battle with technical issues (one’s not quite solved, knock on wood) I’ve finally returned with another, this time just singular, but nevertheless amazing book to review from my perpetual favorite publisher, North South . This time it is for the illustrated adaptation of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale The Six Swans this time with freelance illustrator Gerda Raidt.
It is a beautiful tale, with a reading level from Kindergarten to 3rd grade, and deserves to be more well known amongst the Grimm’s broader repertoire. The premise resembles a lot of other tales; a king is father to six sons and one daughter all of whom he loves very much. He remarries and the jealous and spiteful stepmother, the daughter of a witch, enchants the six princes with a spell that turns them into swans. They fly off into the woods; now only able to turn human for a brief fifteen minutes each night. The princess finds them and vows to save her brothers from the spell, but to do so she is told she must sew six shirts from starflowers and not utter a word, or a laugh, anything for six long years. And so the princess begins her self imposed muteness and begins sewing them the starflower shirts. We then follow the girl as she’s found by a young king of another country in the midst of her hermitage.
North South always works with amazing illustrators on their books, Gerda’s work on this book is no exception. Sketchy and gently cartoonish, Gerda contributes a fresh and accessible look, very in vogue with current illustration trends that I particularly love. The characters are charming and jaunty with a mixed late 18th, 19th century and Edwardian era fashion and hair influences, and environments have a wonderfully pastoral aesthetic. Overall a treat for the eyes and easy for children to understand what’s going on. Even the endpapers are wonderfully designed and drawn on with starflower petals blowing in the wind.
A beautiful book to purchase as a gift for spring birthdays, finishing school or graduation gifts, or even for their Easter basket. For those who enjoy illustration and fairy tales at any age, it is a must read!
See you real soon!
Staff Writer/The Doctor