November 13, 2017 - Comments Off on Telling Tales: exceptional re-imaginings to relish as winter sets in

Telling Tales: exceptional re-imaginings to relish as winter sets in

From the deep, dark woods of the Brothers Grimm, to the shard-sharp magic of Norse myth, one of the defining characteristics of traditional tales, legends and myths is how they lend themselves so marvellously to re-workings by every generation of writers. They are timeless, and also timely, for there’s no better reading companion to curl up with on a wintry evening than an atmospheric, illustrated re-telling, so here are some of our favourites …


Blackberry Blue by Jamila Gavin

Steeped in the enchanting landscape and language of European fairy tales, these six stories, stunningly illustrated by Richard Collingridge, make for an utterly enthralling, inclusive reading experience. In her preface, author Jamila Gavin explains that she sought to expand the scope of European folklore: ‘I wanted to create stories which extended the European image, so that more diverse children could look at the heroes and heroines and say, “That could be me”’, and so Jamila’s fabulous heroes and heroines have skin ‘as black as midnight’, or the colour of ‘polished bronze’. Among the cast of characters is Blackberry Blue, who emerges from brambles in the Cinderella-esque title story, and then there’s Abu, who battles to save his sister from the clutches of a Pied Piper type rogue in The Purple Lady. Magnificently menacing, and mesmerisingly magical, these tales are a triumph.


Norse Myths by Kevin Crossley-Holland, illustrated by Jeffrey Alan Love

In his foreword to this soon-to-be-classic collection of stories based on the Scandinavian myth cycle, Carnegie Medal-winning author Kevin Crossley-Holland explains that ‘Norse myths are brilliant, fast-moving, ice-bright stories’, and the retellings within this gorgeously produced tome more than meet that description. There are action-packed adventures featuring warring gods and goddesses, and an abundance of ancient magic, all framed by timeless truths (‘Fair words often conceal weaselly thinking’; ‘Be generous, be spirited, and you’ll lead a happy life’). And the frost-crisp language is given an additional dimension by Jeffrey Alan Love’s sublime illustrations.


The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Chris Riddell

What an inspired combination of author, illustrator and story, and no surprise that this deliciously dark interweaving of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty was awarded the 2016 CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal. Brimming with wit and wonder, this spellbinding story sees a young queen set out to rescue an enchanted princess from the depths of the Sleeping Kingdom. After replacing her fine robes with a suit of chainmail, the queen ventures into a mountain with her ‘tough and hardy’ dwarf companions, making unexpected discoveries along the way. This cleverly quirky quest has much to satisfy readers of every age.


Tinder by Sally Gardner, illustrated by David Roberts

Always thought-provoking, and often brutal, this brilliant book about love, loss and the horrors of war was inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s The Tinderbox (remember those dogs with the monstrously massive eyes … ?). After defying Death, war-traumatised solider Otto is drawn down a dark path of danger, a path along which he meets all manner of variously mysterious and terrifying beings, from the pure-hearted Safire, to the petrifying Lady of the Nail, and then there’s the wolves … This powerful allegory for older readers is the perfect partnership of words and illustration, and makes for an exquisitely immersive experience.


Published by: Clementine Macmillan-Scott in Uncategorized