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Grimm Tales: For Young and Old (Penguin Hardback Classics) [Hardcover]

Philip Pullman
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
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Book Description

27 Sep 2012 Penguin Hardback Classics

In this beautiful book of classic fairy tales, award-winning author Philip Pullman has chosen his fifty favourite stories from the Brothers Grimm and presents them in a'clear as water' retelling, in his unique and brilliant voice.

From the quests and romance of classics such as 'Rapunzel', 'Snow White' and 'Cinderella' to the danger and wit of such lesser-known tales as 'The Three Snake Leaves', 'Hans-my-Hedgehog' and 'Godfather Death', Pullman brings the heart of each timeless tale to the fore, following with a brief but fascinating commentary on the story's background and history. In his introduction, he discusses how these stories have lasted so long, and become part of our collective storytelling imagination.

These new versions show the adventures at their most lucid and engaging yet. Pullman's Grimm Tales of wicked wives, brave children and villainous kings will have you reading, reading aloud and rereading them for many years to come.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (27 Sep 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1846140269
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846140266
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3.8 x 24 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip Pullman was born in Norwich on 19th October 1946. The early part of his life was spent travelling all over the world, because his father and then his stepfather were both in the Royal Air Force. He spent part of his childhood in Australia, where he first met the wonders of comics, and grew to love Superman and Batman in particular. From the age of 11, he lived in North Wales, having moved back to Britain. It was a time when children were allowed to roam anywhere, to play in the streets, to wander over the hills, and he took full advantage of it. His English teacher, Miss Enid Jones, was a big influence on him, and he still sends her copies of his books.

After he left school he went to Exeter College, Oxford, to read English. He did a number of odd jobs for a while, and then moved back to Oxford to become a teacher. He taught at various middle schools for twelve years, and then moved to Westminster College, Oxford, to be a part-time lecturer. He taught courses on the Victorian novel and on the folk tale, and also a course examining how words and pictures fit together. He eventually left teaching in order to write full-time.

His first published novel was for adults, but he began writing for children when he was a teacher. Some of his novels were based on plays he wrote for his school pupils, such as The Ruby In The Smoke. He is best known for the award winning His Dark Materials series, consisting of Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.

Product Description


A supreme storyteller (Sally Vickers (praise for THE GOOD MAN JESUS AND THE SCOUNDREL CHRIST) Telegraph)

Pullman has a gift for creating scenes that make the reader want to put down the book and say "wow" ((praise for THE GOOD MAN JESUS AND THE SCOUNDREL CHRIST) Times Educational Supplement)

Never putting a foot wrong, the result is a magical complexity-in-simplicity that is sure to become a classic in its own right (Adam Lively Sunday Times)

A fresh, sparkling collection of the finest stories from the Brothers Grimm, hand-picked by an author perfectly suited to the task. This volume is a must-have for any lover of fairy tales. . . . In the hands of a master storyteller such as Pullman, the Grimms's tales take on a whole new life (Library Journal)

A wonderfully rich reading experience . . . Stylish in its simplicity [and with] a salutary clarity and directness . . . In addition to his elegant introduction, [Pullman] concludes each tale with his own always interesting commentary. . . . There are, of course, any number of English-language versions and editions of Grimm, but few are as felicitous in their telling as Pullman's. His book surely belongs on the same shelf as the very best of those that appeal to general readers of all ages (Booklist)

Readers will enjoy not only returning to European fantasy's roots but seeing how the tree still blooms. . . . Smooth narration makes every tale accessible while keeping the mystical and lyrical qualities that make fairy tales so beloved (Publishers Weekly)

You didn't know you needed to reread Grimm. You do. This is a grand and a great book. With confidence and modesty alike, Pullman adds just enough Pullman to remind us that the oldest stories are always best told by someone who knows how to do the job of storytelling. No grandstanding here, no posturing or poesy-making. Pullman selects familiars and exotics, and gives us the goods anew-the ashes never grittier, the golden shoes never more lively, and the teller's notes concise, witty, scholarly even. Older Grimms-put them on the top of the bookcase. This one needs to be closer to hand. I read it ravenously, rapturously (Gregory Maguire, author of 'Wicked and Making Mischief: A Maurice Sendak Appreciation')

I could not imagine a better emissary for the Brothers Grimm than Philip Pullman. His translations have the timeless quality of a voice speaking in a quiet room, at once ancient and immediate to the senses. What a pleasure it is to be reacquainted with these stories in all their swiftness, wonder, horror, and charm (Kevin Brockmeier, author of 'The Brief History of the Dead')

Philip Pullman's Grimm is quite eloquent, and his commentary is witty and historically accurate. There is no doubt in my mind that the Grimms would have been delighted with what he has accomplished (Jack Zipes, Professor Emeritus, University of Minnesota)

In this pitch-perfect retelling of the Grimms' fairy tales, Philip Pullman reminds us that the stories have lost none of their relevance or racing energy, even two hundred years after they were written down. As storyteller and sage, he preserves the flavors and aromas of fine, old wines from times past and delivers them to us in sparkling new bottles (Maria Tatar, Harvard University; author of 'The Classic Fairy Tales')

I've admired Philip Pullman since his early fantasy Galatea on through the splendid trilogy His Dark Materials. All of his gifts, including his prose eloquence, and his endless high Romantic imagination, are manifested in this marvelous retelling of Grimm (Harold Bloom)

Philip Pullman has radically reworked the Grimm tales for all ages (Nicolette Jones Telegraph)

One of Pullman's most useful additions is the vastly improved poems and jingles...his freer versions are catchy and authentic (Guardian)

About the Author

Philip Pullman was born in Norwich on 19th October 1946. He is the acclaimed author of the His Dark Materials trilogy: Northern Lights, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass. His other books for children and young adults include Count Karlstein and a trilogy of Victorian thrillers featuring Sally Lockhart. Northern Lights, the first of Pullman's His Dark Materials triology, won the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Fiction Prize.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
102 of 117 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fine, but who is this book for? 8 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Pullman's versions of some of the Grimms' folk stories are well enough written and his little summaries at the end of each tale give a bit of background to where each story originated and the different versions that have been told in the past. But from the moment I received the book and discovered that, to my amazement, there are no illustrations, I couldn't help but wonder - who exactly is this book for?

Pullman has updated the language but not the stories so we have dreadful clashes like princesses in castles talking about weapons of mass destruction or giants saying 'Respect!'. This kind of pantomime humour made me think the books must be aimed at a young audience but then where are those missing illustrations? I also couldn't help feeling that with language like this Pullman's versions will date much more quickly than those I read in my childhood. On the other hand Pullman has deliberately gone back to the unbowdlerised versions of many of the stories and I'm not sure that I'd be happy to be reading some of these to my (mythical) young children. Rapunzel getting pregnant without really understanding what was happening to her? Houses described as being as filthy as 'pisspots'? Must be for a teenage or adult audience then? But if so, what do these versions add to the ones we all read when we were young? For me, the answer to that question was nothing much, I'm afraid.

In the end I came to the conclusion that the book is in fact aimed at a very specific target audience - Pullman fans. I doubt this will gain him many new ones, nor is it intriguing or different enough to draw in many fans of folk tales. Not a bad book, but I suspect many people who are delighted to see this in their Christmas stocking will be feeling a little deflated by Boxing Day.
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48 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful 25 Sep 2012
By Sam Woodward TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
No matter what your age, dear reader, I can confidently say that we have all grown up reading the timeless tales recorded by the Brothers Grimm. The youngest generations will at the very least have seen the Disney versions! From the Grimm's 200 or so stories, Pullman has selected & rewritten his favourite 50. These range from the famous (Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood & well, you know the ones) to the obscure (anyone come across 'The Donkey Cabbage' before?). Prior to reading, I was concerned that Pullman would attempt to rework these tales for the modern audience - Cinderella pouring frappucinos for her 'facially challenged' sisters, perhaps. Thankfully, this is not the case & they remain stylistically & spiritually faithful to the originals. In the introduction, Pullman says that these stories will inevitably be told in different ways over different generations - a point which comparing Disney's 1937 Snow White to the bleaker Snow White and the Huntsman released in 2012 clearly illustrates. But for him, the Grimm's versions are already delightfully perfect in both structure & content, as their clutter-free simplicity is at the heart of their charm. It is because the prince is brave with no further explanation & the witch wicked without any complex analysis of her presumably dysfunctional childhood, that there is plenty of scope for the narrator to add their own spin, whether that narrator is Disney trying to add visual magic or a parent wanting to make the story more humourous or more scary for their children.

Pullman's faithfulness to the early Grimm versions results in some surprises.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Once Upon A Time ...." 15 Oct 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As a respected author of fantastical fictions himself (if you haven't read
the wonderful "His Dark Materials" trilogy get thee to a bookshop forthwith!)
Philip Pullman is especially well-equipt to curate a collection of Grimm's
tales. In his introduction he tells us that he "wanted to produce a version
that was as clear as water" uncluttered by "modern setings...personal
interpretations...or poetic variations on the originals". Job done. This is
probably the finest re-telling of these timeless and magical stories imaginable.

Mr Pullman has chosen well. From the familiar to the less-well-known, he has
given a beautifully clear voice to fifty of them, in lucid prose which bounces
off the page with an energy and freshness absent from many other editions I
have encountered. Their structure remains intact but their new-found clarity
is as absorbing as it is enthralling. A great story-teller if ever there was!

From the pure enchantment of 'Snow White'; through the cruel entanglements
of 'Hansel and Gretel' and dark machinations of 'Godfather Death' to the
almost musical symmetries of 'The Juniper Tree' (Mr Pullman's favorite) we
are never less than captivated by the truly marvelous quality of his language
and masterful grasp of the essential components of each unfolding narrative.

The annotations and references are both informative and entertaining.
A splendid book for both young and old. Read aloud to anyone who will listen!

Highly Recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Far from Grimm!
This is an awesome reworking of old fables and fairy tales courtesy of one Mr Pullman.

As a huge fan of His Darker Materials I pretty much snap up anything by this... Read more
Published 38 minutes ago by Grind Central
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it!
For those of us brought up on Grimm's fairy tales (like me) - this is a real treat. I realised long ago that these stories have had a real influence on my life - honest! Read more
Published 14 days ago by red petronella
3.0 out of 5 stars Good
These are short retellings of the Grim Brothers fairy tales, I personally believe they ranged a little young for me but never the less I enjoyed the short descriptions after each... Read more
Published 28 days ago by Jasmine
5.0 out of 5 stars Crazy, vicious joy.
I love this book. It is a book where a farmer can give birth to a hedgehog-boy son who demands bagpipes, and shoes for the cockerel. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Mr_Thyroid
4.0 out of 5 stars fairy tales
My daughter has this book, started looking through it when i visited, that is what decided me to buy it.
Published 1 month ago by emr
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Really loved this book. Even my husband read it. Really good to read the proper Grimm tale version of the "Disneyfied" stories. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Gilly B
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure entertaining perfection
The Grimm Tales, for young and old, by Philip Pullman was a delight. A retelling of the magical fairy tales of the Grimm Brothers, Pullman weaves in a little of his own magic with... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Smithjamest
2.0 out of 5 stars Not a retelling
Shame on anyone who called this book a retelling, reworking, or who claims that this book has a "Pullman twist". Read more
Published 2 months ago by Natasha C Urlic
5.0 out of 5 stars very good
I can't get over how Philip Pullman gets into the German pshyche. This is the first translation into English that actually feels like the original. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Bernard Doring
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Great take on well known stories I don't want to do 14 more words, NO more words that is it
Published 2 months ago by possum
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