Sunday, November 20, 2011

Children's Book Review: Snow White

Name of Book: Snow White
Author / Illustrator: By the Brothers Grimm, freely translated from the German by Paul Heins and Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

What It's All About:This is the classic fairytale by the Brothers Grimm.  A beautiful Queen wishes for a daughter with hair as black as ebony and skin as white as snow.  She has Snow White and dies in childbirth.  The King remarries after a year to a beautiful but cruel woman (fairytale Stepmother).  The vain Queen has a magical mirror that will answer truthfully the question, "who is the most beautiful in this land?"  The day comes when Snow White surpasses the Queen in beauty.  The Queen is so envious she tells a hunter to take the child into the woods and kill her.  The hunter, having some pity, releases the child into the woods and returns to the Queen.  Snow White finds a little house in the terrifying woods and creeps in.  Exhausted she falls asleep.  Seven dwarfs come home and find a beautiful girl in house.  They offer to let her live with them and she agrees.  Every day they hunt for gold and every day Snow White takes care of the cottage.  The Queen soon learns from her mirror that Snow White is still alive.  Furious, the Queen dyes her face and dresses like a peddler and goes to the cottage in the woods.  First she sells Snow White a corset and laces so tight that Snow White faints.  The dwarfs come home in time and cut the corset from her and she revives.  The Queen tries to kill Snow White again with a poisoned comb, which she places in Snow White's hair.  Again the dwarfs come home and remove the comb in time to save Snow White.  A third time the Queen dresses as a peasant and brings a poisoned apple to Snow White.  Snow White eats the poison half and falls down as if dead.  The dwarfs find her and cannot revive her.  They think she must be dead and weep aloud but cannot bring themselves to bury her for she still looks so beautiful.  Instead they build a glass coffin and take turns keeping watch over her.  A king's son discovers Snow White and begs the dwarfs to let him take it.  They will not sell it to him and he asks for it as a gift, for he cannot live without seeing Snow White.  The dwarfs take pity on him and give it to him.  As the coffin is jostled, it moves the apple from Snow White's throat and she awakens.  The prince asks her to marry him and she agrees.  Her wicked Stepmother is invited to the feast and comes, not knowing it is Snow White who will marry the prince.  She is horrified when she sees the young queen but cannot turn back.  Iron slippers are placed on a coal fire and brought before her.  She has to step into the red hot shoes and dance until she falls down dead. 

My Favorite Bit: I love every illustration in this story.  It is a gorgeous piece of work and I encourage you to add it to your library.  My favorite picture is the kindly prince looking at Snow White in the glass coffin.
Suitable Age For Reading It To: This is a retelling for older children.  Not only are the pages longer but the story itself is cruel and sharp.  I would wait until your children are around seven before you read this version to them.  There are other retellings that are less dramatic but none as beautiful. Tread carefully with little minds here. 
Go Get It: Snow White on Amazon US. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have been reprinted yet and is more expensive but really worth it. 
A Little About The Author / Illustrator: I've already written about Trina Schart Hyman HERE.  One thing that's interesting in her stories is her self-portraits.  In this story she is the face of the wicked Queen the first time she changes into a peddler to deceive Snow White. 

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