Reviews for Fairy Tales From The Brothers Grimm : A New English Version

Booklist Reviews 2012 October #1
*Starred Review* On the 200th anniversay of the first publication of Grimms' fairy tales (Kinder- und Hausmärchen), celebrated British author Pullman retells 50 of what he calls "the cream" of the brothers' 210 tales. Many of his selections are familiar ("Snow White," "Cinderella," "Little Red Riding Hood," etc.), while others ("Mount Simeli," "The Three Snake-Leaves," "Lady Heinz," etc.) are less so. However, what all have in common, in Pullman's retellings, are a salutary clarity and directness. His style is conversational, simple, and straightforward, without frills and furbelows; but less is more, as Pullman proves by providing a wonderfully rich reading experience. His book is not only stylish in its simplicity but also scholarly. In addition to his elegant introduction, he concludes each tale with his own always interesting commentary and provides, as well, the tale's type (based on The Types of International Folktales, by Antti Aarne), its source, and a short list of similar stories. There are, of course, any number of English-language versions and editions of Grimm, but few are as felicitous in their telling as Pullman's. His book surely belongs on the same shelf as the very best of those that appeal to general readers of all ages. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2013 #2
It's no surprise that Pullman can tell a story, but the magic he works on these fifty favorites is a revelation. It's tempting simply to quote his supple updating of dialogue, his spot-on descriptions, and his sage notes on such subjects as the effectiveness of plot structure. Listing variants, both international and amongst the Grimms' many editions (see also the excellent bibliography), Pullman explains his own choices like a master teacher illuminating the art of storytelling: "I like the version here because the reward is for courage, not just for luck." Or, "Strong Hans" is "not very tidily strung together...once you start ‘improving' a tale like this, it can easily come apart in your hands." All the teller can do, Pullman concludes, "is to try for clarity, and stop worrying about it." And so he does, enlivening his text with concrete details, hints of character, and vivid language without ever breaching the original tales' integrity. The shoemaker, for example, picks up the shoes the elves have stitched "and look[s] at them closely from all angles...He couldn't have done better himself." The fisherman and his wife live "in a shack that was so filthy it might as well have been a pisspot." This is indeed "A New English Version," a revitalized Grimm to entrance seasoned admirers and new readers alike. joanna rudge long

Library Journal Reviews 2012 June #2

It's been 200 years since the publication of the first volume of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm's Children's and Household Tales, and we'll be seeing celebrations. Norton is issuing an update of Maria Tatar's The Annotated Brothers Grimm, and now Pullman has jumped in with his own versions of 50 of the immortal tales, from perennials like "Cinderella" to less familiar gems like "Briar-Rose." The dark edginess of Pullman's own work (e.g., "His Dark Materials" trilogy) seems a good match for the Grimm tone of the originals.

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Library Journal Reviews 2012 September #1
Don't take apples from strange old ladies. Beware of witches and wolves in the woods. Courage and goodness will always be rewarded. These lessons, and more, are well known to anyone familiar with the collected folktales of Jacob and Wilhelm­ Grimm. But familiarity is hardly a drawback here, for in the hands of a master storyteller such as Pullman ("His Dark Materials" trilogy), the Grimms's tales take on a whole new life. At the end of each of the 50 stories included in this edition, released to mark the 200th anniversary of the first publication of the tales, Pullman appends informative notes and commentary and points the reader to comparable tales from other cultures. VERDICT A fresh, sparkling collection of the finest stories from the Brothers Grimm, hand-picked by an author perfectly suited to the task. This volume is a must-have for any lover of fairy tales. [See Prepub Alert, 5/3/12.]--Leigh Wright, Bridgewater, NJ (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal Reviews Newsletter
The fairy tale, as Gaiman so grandly illustrates, never wears out its welcome and is adaptable to endless uses by endless authors. Taking up 50 stories gathered by the Brothers Grimm, Pullman adds his own sensibility and storytelling skills, rendering fresh retellings with some new additions, dexterous word craft, fiercely quick pacing, and a lovely lyrical sensibility. His vivid and vigorous style makes the tales jump off the page, causing such well-known stories as Snow White to seem new again. Deeply committed to his project, Pullman concludes each entry with notes on type, sources of variants, and brief insightful details on such topics as history, interpretation, and the implications of adaptations. This is a great collection to suggest to readers who are prompted by Gaiman (and Connolly) to revisit the fairy tales of their childhood. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 September #1

Pullman (The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ) celebrates the 200th anniversary of the Grimm brothers' first fairy tale collection in this collection of 50 tales, which draws from all seven original Grimm editions as well as other versions and Pullman's own imagination. (He opens with a Tuscan proverb by way of Calvino that "the tale is not beautiful if nothing is added to it.") Favorites like "Cinderella" and "Rumpelstiltskin" become just slightly bloodier, but all retain their old-fashioned feel. Pullman also resurrects tales of the Devil's odd bargain with a soldier ("Bearskin") and a girl who faces an enchanted lion ("The Singing, Springing Lark"). Smooth narration makes every tale accessible while keeping the mystical and lyrical qualities that make fairy tales so beloved. Afterwords provide bibliographic and scholarly information. Readers will enjoy not only returning to European fantasy's roots but seeing how the tree still blooms. Agent: Jamie Byng, Canongate. (Nov.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2013 February

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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