cover image Twelve Tales

Twelve Tales

Hans Christian Andersen. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $19.95 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-689-50584-3

Although Blegvad ( Anna Banana and Me ) has rounded up a few of the usual suspects (``The Princess on the Pea''; ``The Emperor's New Clothes''), the bulk of this unique collection reprises lesser knowns among Andersen's 156 fairy tales. Andersen's remarkable ability to weave in profundities shines in ``The Pixie at the Grocer's,'' in which a pixie uncovers both the spiritual and physical sides of his nature. Other notable entries include ``The Tinderbox,'' ``The Swineherd,'' ``The Sweethearts'' and ``Twelve by Coach.'' A Dane himself, Blegvad writes in an introduction that he grew up hearing Andersen's tales; he translates and illustrates with a great respect for the original. His crisp pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations are plentiful and evocative of Andersen's time. If they disappoint those partial to the lush, idealized treatment of illustrators like Michael Hague or Mary Engelbreit, they are truer to the stories--they reconcile Andersen's joy in the power of imagination with the dark undercurrents that give his work their lasting depth. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)