2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Beautiful book, possibly a bit too scary.,
This review is from: Jack and the Beanstalk: A Book of Nursery Stories (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Recently, I had the opportunity to read a few modern versions of some popular children's stories; something about them was a little unfamiliar, I thought. In the versions I remembered, there was an unpleasant fate for some of the characters; Grandma was eaten by the Big Bad Wolf, who incidently polished off at least two of the Three Little Pigs, in short, a gruesome death was always a possiblity and frequently did happen to at least one person. Sometime between the 1970s and today, our sensibilities have changed and these stories have been rendered a bit less gory and probably a bit less nightmare inducing.
Which is why I was somewhat surprised by the contents of Jack and the Beanstalk, though I was familiar with all the tales and how dark they could really get. These are collected and told in a near to original form and contain all the deaths and gruesome details that more anodyne modern retellings gloss over. The ogre at the top of the beanstalk has the bones of boys for his supper, grandma isn't saved by the woodcutter - she's eaten by the wolf instead , and the wolf isn't chased off to learn the error of his ways; no, the woodcutter slays him or he is boiled alive to be eaten by the sole remaining little pig.
Despite these being the versions I was told back in the seventies, I think I will follow modern sensibilities and reserve them for when my son is quite a bit older. I will hold onto them though, they are a part of our culture and I'll want my boy to experience them in this form, but not until he is somewhat older. Each parent will have to decide for themselves what is fitting for their own children; if you don't think they did you any harm, then certainly read them to your children because you won't find as well told anywhere else.
In fitting with the older style of storytelling the illustrations, though new, have a 'vintage' feel to them. They are line and wash, with a limited colour palette that echoes the limits of colour printing for much of the twentieth century. In fact, the pages have been printed with a slight yellow cast, which with the old fashioned typography lends the whole book the vintage feel.
Though probably not a bedtime favourite, this is a fascinating and beautiful book and one that will be worth holding on to.