PROFESSIONAL READING

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version

400p. bibliog. Viking. 2012. Tr $27.95. ISBN 978-0-670-02497-1; ebook $14.99. ISBN 978-1-101-60103-7.
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Fifty tales are retold in this witty, fast-paced, and entertaining collection. In fairy-tale tradition, Pullman adds his own modern phraseology and an occasional event to the "originals" when he believes it will be an improvement. The conceits of the genre are respected and adhered to but the subtle changes make the stories compelling. It is charming to think of the Brave Little Tailor as "a weapon of mass destruction." This and a few other modernisms enliven the narratives. Pullman effectively makes use of other sources to tell the stories: an Uncle Remus conclusion for the ending of "The Cat and the Mouse Set Up House" and the epigram in "The Robber Bridegroom" from "Mr. Fox," which is similar to Much Ado About Nothing. He attributes and incorporates the original tellers and writers as collected by the Grimms as well as authors of other variants and other folktales. Each selection is referenced by type, source, and similar tale. Mention of the psychologist Bruno Bettelheim and scholars such as Maria Tatar, Jack Zipes, and Marina Warner point to varying interpretations of the stories. The introduction conveys his purpose and presents some history of the Grimms and information about the fairy-tale conventions found in their tales. Others have presented the complete tales (Zipes) and annotated tales (Tatar) and there are countless picture-book adaptations. Pullman's collection is noteworthy for the energetic pace of the stories and the subtle adaptations that make it accessible to modern readers. This is a collection for librarians and teachers to read aloud and to encourage listeners to imagine and retell in their own words.—Jackie Gropman, formerly at Chantilly Regional Library, VA

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