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Grimm Tales: For Young and Old (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 5 Sep 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (5 Sept. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141442220
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141442228
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (158 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,055 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

Review

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)

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)

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)

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

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By emma who reads a lot TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 20 Oct. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Other reviewers have wondered who this edition is for, exactly; I kept thinking it was precisely what I wanted, at least. Philip Pullman is a master storyteller and I loved these simple, restrained re-tellings from the Grimm Brothers' famous book. From rarer tales to the old favourites like Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella, I liked them all, and I loved being in contact with the primal energy that originates from these stories - they are so fantastically odd! Pullman explores briefly why that might be, in his introduction, talking about how whole elements of the narrative can take place in a single sentence, with character as we conventionally know it almost entirely absent. I thought the book as a whole was respectful and delightful.

I have several other editions and I really like the balance in this one. If you read Maria TatarThe Classic Fairy Tales (Norton Critical Editions) you will get fewer individual stories and more academic material, but this has plenty to be getting on with: a section after each tale makes it clear what the sources were for the original, who else has told the tale, and where Pullman himself has made changes. If you want a real little children's version, don't pick this - my recommendation would be Yummy: My Favourite Nursery Stories from the creator/illustrator of Maisy, where fairy tales are re-told in wonderful short form with good big pictures.

However for parents who want to know the stories by heart so that they can tell them to their children - surely the most appropriate way of doing it - this book is perfect.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By BookWorm TOP 500 REVIEWER on 19 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback
This wasn't exactly what I was expecting - I'd imagined a modern retelling of classic tales with a twist, as is quite popular at the moment (a spate of films, the US TV series 'Once Upon a Time', the successful musical 'Wicked' etc.). It isn't. Instead it's a collection of fairy tales based on the tales of the Brothers Grimm, presented by award winning author Philip Pullman. Without his famous name on the cover, this book would almost certainly not have achieved the same sales. But that's not to say it's bad - it isn't. Pullman always writes well and although he does very little to reinvent the tales, they are all readable. I'm not a fan of short stories, but I did enjoy working my way through these. It's actually rather fun, particularly reading the more authentic original versions of tales we think we know from Disney or other interpretations.

At the end of each story is a short commentary by Pullman. I'm not greatly interested in literary criticism or the history of folk tales, but I skimmed them and found some pretty interesting. It's all kept nice and short for the more casual reader. I did like reading his comments on the structure of the story and his criticisms at times of what he sees as flaws in the story structure. It made me think about these familiar tales in a different way. It would be a good book to introduce literary criticism to young people and get them thinking - certainly more fun than the tedious texts I ploughed through for GCSE after which I swore never to study English and ruin my pleasure of reading again.

Those with a particular interest in literary criticism, folk tales, or children's literature, will probably delight in this book. I found it entertaining and a bit different, but I didn't rush home to read it. I think that's a lot to do with personal taste, as I'm just not that excited by short stories. So it succeeds in doing what it sets out to do, it's just not something I could really get into.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By The Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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110 of 127 people found the following review helpful By FictionFan TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 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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