Friday, May 8, 2015

Green and Yellow Fairy Books (Hesperus Press)

Andrew Lang's Fairy Books are a series of twelve books that were compiled and published between 1889 and 1910. The colors in order are Blue, Red, Green, Yellow, Pink, Grey, Violet, Crimson, Brown, Orange, Olive, and Lilac. There are approximately 400-500 tales total, and they are gathered from all over the globe. Some you will recognize, and others you won't. Truthfully, you can find all but the Grey Fairy book on Amazon for free for the Kindle, and that's fine, but they lack the illustrations. Also, there's something about a nice hardcover; turning the pages; and smelling the paper while reading it. Hesperus Press has been slowly republishing these books at the rate of about two a year. I assume this is to make sure there is enough interest before printing all twelve books, but I know I am going to be sorely disappointed if they don't publish the other eight.

The Green Fairy Book contains 42 tales, if I counted correctly. The ones which you will immediately recognize are The Three Little Pigs and The Story of the Three Bears. However, these stories aren't always the way that you remember them. Another one, which was my favorite, was The Fisherman and His Wife. You might recognize this tale, and you might not, but it is about a poor fisherman who catches a flounder who claims to be a prince. He decides to release it but the wife berates him saying he should have asked for a reward in return. He does so the next day, and instead of being happy the wife gets greedy. She keeps demanding more and more, and eventually loses it all. Other interesting and lesser known stories include The Enchanted Snake. which is an Italian fairy tale, and The Riddle, which  is a German fairy tale that the Brothers Grimm compiled.

The Yellow Fairy Book contains 48 tales, if I counted correctly. This collection contains two very well known tales in Thumbelina and the Emperor's New Clothes, a personal favorite of mine. There is also my wife's and most girls favorite How to Tell a True Princess. Many might not recognize it by this title, but if I told you that it involved a princess, a bunch of mattresses, and a pea, you would immediately know the story. In fact, I know a few people who tried this very test when they were little. Unfortunately, none of them turned out to be princesses. Within this book, there are also Polish tales like The Glass Mountain and French tales like The Wizard King. Not all the tales are happy. Though, one should never expect them to be. But each are enchanting and expose you and your children to different cultures and different takes on familiar tales.

If you are a fan of fairy tales, this series is for you. The books are wonderfully constructed, and the vibrant dust jackets stand out on your shelf and make for a beautiful collection. I hope they will continue to publish these wonderful books until my collection is complete. Judging by the previous release schedule, there should (emphasis on should) be another two put out at the end of this year or beginning of next year, and they would be the Pink and Grey books. Until then, remember that if you like tangible books and want good books like this to continue to be available in print, then you have to support smaller publishers like Hesperus Press.

These books were provided to me for free by Hesperus Press in exchange for honest reviews. If you found these reviews helpful, please click here and/or here and hit Yes!