Craig Phillips offers excellent graphic adaptations of well-known and obscure fairy tales alike in Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts: Ten Tales from the Deep, Dark Woods.
Phillips includes characters who might seem familiar but are somewhat removed from their most popular incarnations: a Snow White who, along with her sister Rose Red, actually looks like a child, and the Norse thunder god Thor as a preadolescent. Other characters, like the witch Baba Yaga and the giant Finn McCool, are a bit less ubiquitous in modern culture, and some, like the Japanese boy Momotaro or the unnamed girl featured in the Estonian tale “The Devil Bridegroom,” will be completely unknown to most English readers. The mix of familiar and unfamiliar elements should maintain the interest of even the most widely read fans of fairy tales.
The book’s full-color art is bright and majestic, with grand views of the outdoors and an occasional castle, plus convincing depictions of a great variety of animals and mythical creatures. But the art is also friendly and cartoony enough that young children won’t be too frightened of the creatures that make up the book’s title.
These stories, drawn from countries around the world, entertain in their own right, but they also provide a glimpse of the richness of world literature, possibly fostering a deeper appreciation of the same. Giants, Trolls, Witches, Beasts: Ten Tales from the Deep, Dark Woods is recommended for schools and libraries everywhere, and if Phillips is up for it, a second artfully created compilation would be welcome.
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