Thursday, August 11, 2011

Children's Book Review: The Sleeping Beauty

NOTE: This is my favorite book because of the perfect illustrations and to prove it I'm going to put them all in...that's right, all of them.  Here we go:
Name of Book: The Sleeping Beauty
Author / Illustrator: Retold and illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
What's It All About: When a King slights the oldest fairy of thirteen in the kingdom, she curses the King's newborn princess saying she will die on her fifteenth birthday by pricking her finger on a spinning wheel.  The twelfth fairy softens the curse so that the princess will only fall asleep for one hundred years.  The King has every spinning wheel destroyed in the kingdom.  But over time as his daughter grows in beauty, grace, and kindness, he forgets about the curse.  On her fifteenth birthday the princess Briar Rose does indeed find an old woman spinning at a wheel in a forgotten tower and pricks her finger, falling down in a deep sleep.  The curse is so powerful that the whole kingdom also falls asleep.  One hundred years later a Prince searches for the enchanted princess. The thorns that grow around the castle part for him and he finds Briar Rose, kissing her to wake her.  The kingdom awakens from the spell and the Prince and Briar Rose are married.
My Favorite Bit: I have two pages that are probably my favorite illustration-wise but this book is so beautiful that I have taken the time to photograph my personal copy to show to you.  My parents gave me this book when I was four years old and it is perhaps my favorite.
Suitable Age For Reading It To: This is a slightly more realistic version of this well known fairytale complete with rotting corpses of valiant men in the thorns and language that would imply a more mature audience.  I would say six and over for this one based on the words but if you wanted to skip the page with the men caught in the thorns and kind of told your own version you could read it to younger children.
Go Get It: The Sleeping Beauty on Amazon US
A Little About The Author / Illustrator: Trina Schart Hyman (1939-2004) was born in Phillidelphia, Pennsylvania and illustrated over 150 books in her lifetime.  Her favorite story as a child was Little Red Riding Hood and she spent a year of her childhood in a red cape her mother made for her.  She died of cancer at age 65.

The Sleeping Beauty

 Inside the first page

Title page


 The Queen hearing from a little frog that she will get her greatest wish--a baby.

The baby princesses dedication

 The feast to celebrate the girl's birth with twelve of the thirteen fairies invited

The thirteenth fairy arriving in a fury to curse the child

The twelfth fairy trying to soften the curse (with this picture being one of my favorites because of the beautiful baby peeking over the king's shoulder)

 The king having all the spinning wheels burned

 Briar Rose at fifteen

Finding an old tower (one of my favorite illustrations ever)

 Finding an old woman spinning 

 The castle and all it's inhabitants fall asleep

The cook falling asleep...even the flies sleep

 The castle with thorns growing up around it for a hundred years

 The men who die trying to get through the thorns (careful with this one for little children)

 A Prince traveling through the countryside searching for the princess under the enchantment

The hundred years are at an end so the thorns part for the Prince

 The Prince entering the still slumbering courtyard
 Walking the halls with sleeping people (though apparently the spiders didn't sleep)

This would actually be quite a nightmare to walk through so quiet and still

The Prince finding Briar Rose asleep in the tower...isn't this gorgeous?

The Prince and Briar Rose meeting up happily with the King and Queen (note: look on the balcony if you can see it--I always loved the couple who are running to each other down the hallway)

The castle returns to normal

And they lived in peace and happiness

This is the back cover that has been worn to pieces so my father-in-law laminated it for me and I put it in a frame in my house but I love it.

Doesn't it just make you want to own everything she's ever done? I assure you the others are just as gorgeous.  My mother's favorite is Snow White and I'll review that one soon.  For now just put this down for your kids as an extra special library item (Christmas gift?)


  1. Thank you for your review. I have not seen this book in 30 years. I thought I had imagined it.