Born 200 years ago this April, Hans Christian Andersen left a remarkably rich legacy, entertaining readers of all ages with his timeless tales. Several publishers are commemorating the bicentennial of this writer's birth with new editions of his classic stories.
A heroine whose cleverness belies her small stature returns in Lauren Mills's adaptation of Thumbelina, due from Little, Brown in April. The Golden Kite Award—winning author fills the pages of her picture book with particulars plucked from nature: a walnut shell covered with violet petals serves as the diminutive heroine's bed; a leaf becomes her umbrella; and field mice and birds are her companions. Another Andersen favorite, The Ugly Duckling, is a new release from Penguin's minedition line. This version of the story of a duck who discovers his inner beauty after being rejected by his peers—and even his own mother— features art by Robert Ingpen.
The spring will also bring a new edition of Andersen's The Wild Swans, which tells of a girl's quest to restore her brothers to their human forms after they are turned into swans. Introduced and translated by Andersen expert Naomi Lewis and illustrated by Anne Yvonne Gilbert, this will be published by Barefoot Books in March. From Holiday House comes a new version of Anderson's The Pea Blossom, a tale centering on a small pea whose journey transforms the life of a mother and daughter. Retold and illustrated by Amy Lowry Poole, this book features paintings on rice paper.
And the life of this celebrated 19th-century storyteller comes into focus in Jane Yolen's The Perfect Wizard: Hans Christian Andersen, due from Dutton this month. Dennis Nolan illustrates the volume, which examines Andersen's youth and reveals how his words were inspired by his life experiences. Yolen's narrative underscores this raconteur's passion to become a writer against all odds, an accomplishment for which many generations of readers have been grateful.