cover image Snow White and Rose Red

Snow White and Rose Red

Gennady Spirin, Wilhelm Grimm, Jacob W. Grimm. Philomel Books, $14.95 (31pp) ISBN 978-0-399-21873-6

Every detail of this intricately illustrated volume seems to extol the triumph of beauty and purity, as symbolized by the lovely, fragile rose. Floral garlands adorn the book inside and out, and heart-shaped rosette wreaths frame each page number. Romping blissfully through the flora, the eponymous sisters exhibit a cherubic innocence, their chubby cheeks and rounded bodies suffused in a soft glow. In contrast the woeful bear embodies a feral shagginess, evoking the ursine images from Spirin's Once There Was a Tree. As with this artist's previous fairy tale interpretations, the superbly executed paintings enhance the story's grandeur; at times, however, the effect is somewhat diminished by the characters' frozen, china-doll expressions. This enduring tale distinguishes between the personalities of the two girls but, happily, makes no judgments. The book's handsome design adds to its Old World allure: text and art are set forth in ruled, arch-shaped borders, while Spirin's colorations suggest medieval tapestries. Ages 4-8. (Nov.)