cover image Michael Hague’s Read-to-Me Book of Fairy Tales

Michael Hague’s Read-to-Me Book of Fairy Tales

Alison Grace MacDonald, illus. by Michael Hague. Harper, $19.99 (128p) ISBN 978-0-688-14010-6

This fairy tale anthology features 14 simplified versions of classic stories including “Cinderella,” “Rumpelstiltskin,” and “The Three Little Pigs,” accompanied by gilded paintings that honor their fantastic, enigmatic, and sometimes terrifying content. Beauty’s Beast is a shrieking, wolflike ghoul; Hague’s illustrations for “The Little Mermaid” evoke the Art Nouveau movement, his sea witch a cross between Medusa and an octopus; and Little Red Riding Hood’s cape trails behind her in sinuous and sinister tendrils as she crosses the dark forest. While MacDonald’s abbreviated retellings don’t linger on the grimmer elements of the tales, the material isn’t overly laundered either (in “Snow White,” the queen “feasted on what she thought was Snow White, satisfied that she had rid herself of her beautiful stepdaughter”). Ornate visual details provide a gateway for readers to uncover the symbolism and unspoken complexities behind these familiar stories. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)