Children's LiteratureFrom Canada comes this addition to the "Once-Upon-A-Time" series, each volume containing three stories loosely related by theme, in this case, royal personages. Although all three are billed as traditional tales, children should be aware that only The Frog Prince is a folk tale; The Princess and the Pea and The Emperor's New Clothes are literary fairy tales written by Hans Christian Andersen. The text of The Frog Prince follows the Grimms' version till near the end when it's sanitized to make the Princess look kinder than she is and to remove any hint of sexuality. While most traditional tales change in the retelling, it's questionable practice to tinker with the words of an author, especially without giving him any credit. Still, these simplified Andersen stories are probably more accessible to younger listeners, although they will need to be read to all but the most accomplished readers. At least, the tales remain true to the author's intentions, except for the end of The Emperor's New Clothes, which misses the emperor's heroic determination to maintain his dignity. Illustrations (gouache, watercolor, and pencil) are consistent throughout, offering chubby people in a mishmash of period costume-mostly balloon-like garments and odd, padded turbans-though colors are attractive and the faces, amusing. Teachers and parents would do well to seek out other versions of the stories for comparison, not forgetting illustrations like Binette Schroeder's magical, cinematic paintings for The Frog Prince and Angela Barrett's wickedly witty interpretations of The Emperor's New Clothes. 2003, Kids Can, Ages 5 to 8.
Barbara L. Talcroft