The Nixie of the Mill-Pond and Other European Stories

Iron Circus. (A Cautionary Fables & Fairytales Book). May 2020. 200p. ed. by McDonald, Kel & Kate Ashwin, eds. pap. $15. ISBN 9781945820540.
Gr 5 Up–Editors McDonald and Ashwin pull together nine black-and-white adaptations of European fairy tales, from well-known stories like “Jack and the Beanstalk” and “Puss in Boots” to more obscure titles such as “Tatterhood” and “Bisclavret.” Because the tales were created by different artists, they vary in style. The wordless “Hamelin’s Piper” shines with its sophisticated yet fanciful watercolors, while the art and presentation skew young in other entries (“The Singing Bone”), especially those that evoke manga or children’s animation. Transitions between stories are usually seamless, and the paneling is almost always clearly delineated. But there are exceptions, and some tales prove difficult to read at times owing to the use of full bleeds or minimal interior gutters; “Kid Brother” is particularly cluttered and fluid. Although younger readers may be intrigued, all of the stories maintain at least a trace of the sinister edge typically found in fairy tales, with death and violence—a nose bitten off, a friend killed—portrayed to various degrees of realism and explicitness. Many, though not all, of the stories feel modern because of the use of familiar, contemporary language.
VERDICT This enjoyable but optional collection is recommended for libraries where fairy tales are highly sought after.

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