The Tinderbox
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The Tinderbox

5.0 1
by Stephen Mitchell, Bagram Ibatoulline

The Tinderbox was illustrated by master artist Vladyslav Yerko, whose work has been recognized with many awards and has won a number of prestigious exhibitions. Yerko's breathtaking illustrations are expressive and intricate. This book's large format gives you the opportunity to enjoy his exquisite detail, his touching lyricism, and his sense of humor over and over…  See more details below


The Tinderbox was illustrated by master artist Vladyslav Yerko, whose work has been recognized with many awards and has won a number of prestigious exhibitions. Yerko's breathtaking illustrations are expressive and intricate. This book's large format gives you the opportunity to enjoy his exquisite detail, his touching lyricism, and his sense of humor over and over again. Long before the publication of the book, international art collectors had already purchased its original artwork.

Editorial Reviews

Elizabeth Ward
…a vivid new translation here by Stephen Mitchell…Bagram Ibatoulline's delicate watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations bring out its latent, violent weirdness very well.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Andersen's mysterious tale of the common soldier who ends up marrying a princess with the help of three unusual messengers of fate is illustrated with Hutton's beautifully rendered pen-and-watercolor drawings. The soldier kills a witch because she will not tell him the secret of her tinderbox and discovers that when he strikes the box, three dogswith eyes as big as teacups, mill wheels and round towers, respectivelyappear to do his bidding and help him win the princess. While Hutton effectively uses moon-washed shadows throughout the book, the dogs, like Orphan Annie's Sandy, have blank cartoon eyes that detract from the eerie aspects of the story. Although some of the paintings are imaginatively designed, the art does not provide a consistent interpretation of the work. Ages 6-up. (Sept . )
Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Mitchell collaborates once more with illustrator Bagram Ibatoulline (See The Nightingale). In The Tinderbox, a soldier marching home from war meets a witch. Be warned, there's no sentimental avoidance of the grotesque and brutal here. The witch's "lower lip hung down to her breast." And yes, her head is indeed lopped off at the appropriate point in the story. It's refreshing to see that this retelling conveys the rowdiness, casual disregard for social niceties, and frank lusting after wealth that are characteristic of Andersen's soldiers. Mitchell takes the risk of staying true to the spirit of the original, instead of seeking to serve a sentimental conceit of the child reader. The short, sharp prose that marks classic translations can be found here, with a few exceptions where simplifying the language seems to have marginally tempered the breathlessness. We are led in and out of the hall with the hundreds of lamps, in and out through the doors, in and out of the presence of the dogs, and through to the expected feast at the end. The stunning spreads and exquisite detail of the illustrations add both texture and terror to the tale. No young reader encountering this book will ever forget those dogs with their astonishing eyes. With no back matter to clarify this point, it's unclear whether Mitchell (translator of works from the Bhagavad Gita to Neruda and Rilke) translated this story himself, or relied on the classic translation of Jean Hersholt. A cited source would have been so easy to include that it's surprising not to find it here.
School Library Journal

Gr 2–5
The soldier may be handsome and the princess lovely, but the old witch and the three giant dogs along with the beautifully developed settings really create the superb fairy-tale ambience of this robust telling of Andersen's tale. Ibatoulline's finely hatched pen drawings, washed in muted tones, resemble lithographs and have an appropriately old-fashioned look. His wide double-page scenes include broad vistas of the mountainous countryside with far-off palaces and close-up views of characters and actions. Mitchell's faithful retelling is a bit verbose at times, but Andersen himself tended to be wordy. The scraggly witch is quite wonderful, but of course she comes to a quick end. "So he cut her head off. Her body fell to the ground, and her head fell beside it." This is not a tale for the faint of heart, but it's a rich rendering of the durable, intriguing classic.
—Margaret BushCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.05(w) x 11.68(h) x 0.41(d)
Age Range:
6 - 9 Years

Meet the Author

Hans Christian Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark, on April 2, 1805. Andersen achieved worldwide fame for writing innovative and influential fairy tales. Many of his stories, including "The Snow Queen", "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Princess and the Pea," remain classics of the genre. He died in Copenhagen on August 4, 1875.
Andersen’s work first gained recognition in 1829, with the publication of a short story entitled "A Journey on Foot from Holmen’s Canal to the East Point of Amager." The promising young author won a grant from the king, allowing him to travel across Europe and further develop his body of work. In 1835, Andersen began producing fairy tales. In 1845, English translations of Andersen’s folktales and stories began to gain the attention of foreign audiences. Andersen forged a friendship with acclaimed British novelist Charles Dickens, whom he visited in England in 1847 and again a decade later. His stories became English-language classics and had a strong influence on subsequent British children’s authors, including A.A. Milne and Beatrix Potter. Over time, Scandinavian audiences discovered Andersen’s stories, as did audiences in the United States, Asia and across the globe. In 2006, an amusement park based on his work opened in Shanghai. His stories have been adapted for stage and screen, including a popular animated version of "The Little Mermaid."

Vladyslav Yerko is an acclaimed master in Ukrainian graphic arts.
Yerko, a member of the Union of Artists of Ukraine, was born in Kyiv. He studied in the Faculty of Book Graphics at the Ivan Fedorov Polygraphic Institute in Kyiv from 1984 to 1990. He worked in film poster design. In 1987 he received the 2nd Award in the Moscow International Poster Competition. He is a laureate of the Lesia Ukrayinka Award. In 1989 he started working in book graphics and illustrated the works of H. C. Andersen, W. Shakespeare, E.T.A. Hoffman, J. Swift, Lewiss Carroll, Paulo Coelho, Richard Bach etc.
Nowadays Vladyslav Yerko is the leading Ukrainian maestro of book graphics, the winner of numerous prestigious art and book exhibitions, the holder of the title "Man of Book" as the best artist of 2002 according to the Moscow’s "Book Review." His illustrations to the books "Snow Queen", The Tinderbox, "Child Roland and Other Knight’s Tales", "The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark", "Alice in Wonderland", "Gulliver’s Travels" etc won the general recognition. Here is how Paulo Coelho responded on Yerko’s "Snow Queen": "It is the most amazing children’s book that I have ever seen in my life." The rights to Yerko’s books have been acquired by publishers in 15 countries all over the world—from the UK to South Korea and Australia. "The Tales of the Foggy Albion", illustrated by Yerko, won Ukraine’s "Book of the Year" award for 2003.

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