Skip to main content

Important Fairy Tale Picture Books

Fairy tales in their original form are actually very short, as Iona and Peter Opie's The Classic Fairy Tales demonstrates, thus they are ideal for the picture book format.  I'd like to share some of my favorites, both for the retellings and illustrations.

Paul O. Zelinsky winner of the Caldecott Award for Rapunzel, which he also retold, is like a collection of Renaissance paintings.  Zelinsky won the Caldecott honor for Rumplstiltskin, which he also retold,  and Hansel and Gretel, retold by Rika Lesser.  

Another prolific and magically dream-like illustrator of fairy tales is Lisbeth Zwerger.  Her works include illustrations for Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and lesser known fairy tales like The Legend of Rosepetal, Dwarf Nose and Thumbeline.

Anita Lobel, a magnificent artist, brings her unique style to tales retold by Charlotte Huck including two of my favorites, Princess Furball, a sort of Cinderella story, and Toads and Diamonds, also similar to Cinderella and a fairy tale that was excellently retold by Gail Carson Levine, author of Ella Enchanted, in The Fairy's Mistake. Once published alone, it can now be found in her collection, along with other wonderful retellings, The Fairy's Return.

K.Y. Craft and Gennady Spirin are two other magnificent artists with similar styles illustrating fairy tales.  Craft has illustrated The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Sleeping Beauty and Tom Thumb, among others.  Spirin, who has illustrated books for Julie Andrews and Madonna, has written and illustrated his own works, such as Martha and A Apple Pie.  He has illustrated Jack and the Beanstalk, Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  But my favorites are his illustrations of the Russian folktales, The Sea King's Daughter, The Frog Princess and The Tale of the Firebird.  

James Marshall and Stephen Kellogg can also be counted on for great fairy tale adaptaions and illustrations.  Marshall brings humor to the stories and has retold Goldilocks and The Three Bears, The Little Three Pigs, Red Riding Hood and Hansel and Gretel.  Kellogg has retold Jack and the Beanstalk, The Three Little Pigs, and Chicken Little as well some great versions of American Tall Tales like Mike Fink, Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, and Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind Crockett.

Finally, don't miss these brilliant recreations of fairy tales, The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig, written by Eugene Trivizas and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury and The Frog Prince Continued by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Steve Johnson.

If you would like a magnificent resource for fairy tales and related books, visit SurLaLune Fairy Tales. If you are interested in fairy tales and their relevance today, read my post The Importance of Fairy Tales.  And, if you have favorite fairy tale books and/or collections, please let me know.  I am always looking for a good collection, for myself and for stock at the bookstore!  


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…