Twelve Dancing Princesses

( 7 )

Overview

For generations, children have loved the enchanting story of the twelve beautiful princesses and the handsome young lad who solves the mystery of their tattered shoes.

Now Marianna Mayer brings to life all the splendor and romance of this beloved classic, from the dazzling forests Of silver, gold, and diamonds to a twilight palace where the bewitched princesses dance to hypnotic music. And award-winning artist Kinuko Craft add, her own magic: a...

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Overview

For generations, children have loved the enchanting story of the twelve beautiful princesses and the handsome young lad who solves the mystery of their tattered shoes.

Now Marianna Mayer brings to life all the splendor and romance of this beloved classic, from the dazzling forests Of silver, gold, and diamonds to a twilight palace where the bewitched princesses dance to hypnotic music. And award-winning artist Kinuko Craft add, her own magic: a visual feast of exquisite, jewel-like paintings that sweep across the pages.

Together, Mayer and Craft have created an unforgettable world that readers of all ages will want to return to again and again.

When the king's twelve daughters, under an evil spell, wear holes in their dancing slippers every night and grow pale and mysterious, Peter the gardener's boy discovers their secret and breaks the spell.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Craft's richly hued illustrations create a magical setting for Mayer's polished version of this romantic fairy tale. The story centers on the mysterious enchantment to which the King's 12 daughters have fallen prey: although locked in their bedchamber at night, each morning they emerge pale and tired, with their satin dancing slippers worn through. It is Peter, a humble gardener, who succeeds where dozens of princes have failed, eventually breaking the spell that has bound them. With skillful use of lighting, texture and detail and a fine sense of mood, Craft captures both the regal opulence of the King's court and the shimmery, ethereal beauty of the subterranean world of the all-night dancing, resulting in a lavish feast for the eyes and the imagination. All ages. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Nancy Partridge
This is a retelling of the well-known fairytale, accompanied by splendid illustrations that draw the reader in with their lush beauty. They reveal the atmosphere of enchantment that falls over the princesses, turning their hearts to ice and forcing them to dance every night in a semi-twilight world. The humility of the hero, a common gardener, finally manages to win over the youngest princess, and their true love breaks the chain of magic that enslaves everyone. Imaginatively written and finely illustrated, this is a picture book sure to be enjoyed by everyone who loves fairytales. 1998, (orig.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-- In this lavishly illustrated but poorly structured retelling of the classic Grimm tale, Mayer retains little of the original, making major and inexplicable changes in the story. Abandoning the direct simplicity of the folk tradition found in Errol Le Cain's version (Penguin, 1981), Mayer fundamentally alters the main characters, making the old soldier a golden-haired youth, the eldest daughter the youngest, and the old crone a mystifying vision of a ``regal'' woman. She further confuses the plot by introducing several new and unnecessary elements which are never fully developed (a fortune-teller, a ``half-forgotten'' prophecy), leaving the plot muddled and readers feeling cheated. Mayer's prose contributes to the muddle, relying on long cliched descriptions and an excessive use of adjectives (``the wizened old fortune-teller's eyes burned bright, and her thin voice crooned like a haunting echo''). Overall, the language is too ornate and cumbersome to sustain children's interest or be effective as a read-aloud. Craft's illustrations are much more successful. For the most part, her paintings are rich and luminous, appropriately depicting the romanticized couple in an opulent fairy tale setting. Several are striking in their design and use of light, but a few are disconcertingly flat and garish. Evocative vignettes, placed on nearly every page, elaborate small details of setting or action. While Craft's illustrations make this an attractive addition to folk/fairy tale collections, Mayer's overblown text is inappropriate for both the genre and the intended audience. Libraries with a strong demand for multiple versions of fairy tales may want to purchase this for the illustrations alone, but those owning the Le Cain version can pass it by.-- Linda Boyles, Alachua County Library, Gainesville, Fla.
Asimov's Science Fiction
...[A] robust retelling by Marianna Mayer.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688143923
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/28/1998
  • Series: Mulberry Bks.
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 947,562
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Marianna Mayer lives in Roxbury, Connecticut.

"I see folktales and myths as humankind's first stories," says Marianna Mayer. "They are a kind of collective dreaming, filled with timeless symbols and images we can all relate to, regardless of age or culture. And, much as an oyster must be disturbed by a grain of sand in order for the pearl to be created, I often choose to retell stories in which I find unresolved fragments that are somehow perplexing to me."

Though widely known as a children's book writer, Marianna Mayer's early education focused on visual art. "It seems to me there was never a time when I didn't want to be an artist, " she says. "I liked to tell stories with pictures and compose music. My sister and I put on plays made up from my stories. And then I decided to start writing a book, at the age of nine." She published her first book at the age of nineteen. After college, she studied painting at the Art Students League in New York City. Her experiences as an artist provided many images that she began to incorporate into writing. Gradually, she shifted to the written word as a medium of expression. She explains, "I began to feel more freedom when using words as my paints and plots as my canvases.

"While in the midst of a writing project, I live so much in my mind that what takes place in my imagination becomes quite real to me. I try to become part of the culture of a particular tale as much as possible. While working on Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave, for example, I read all I could about Russia. What I learned about Slavic mythology helped to deepen my understanding of the story. I listened to Russian music, ate Russian food (which I love!), and tried in other small ways to enter into the essence of that culture."

"My writing is deeply personal. First and foremost I write for the child who still lives within me. Then to the child in others, whether that child resides in a young person or an adult. I'm striving to reach out to that spirit of wonder within us all. The stories I was told as a child, those half-remembered folktales and myths, have become the foundation for what I continue to work on in my books. The sense of hope that books instilled in me as a child saw me through many difficult times. Because of this, I choose characters who face overwhelming odds but triumph through courage and perseverance. Similarly, myth allows a child to believe in his or her own dreams and can instill a boundless hope for the future."

Kinuko Y. Craft has won more than one hundred graphic-arts awards, including three gold medals from the Society of Illustrators, and her paintings have appeared regularly on the covers of such national publications as Time and Newsweek. Says Kirkus Reviews, a "Every detail of her work — the flowers by a spring, a red cloak unfurled against a blue sky, moonlight on a tiger's back is beautifully rendered."

Kinuko Y. Craft, illustrator of Cupid and Psyche and Pegasus, by Marianna Mayer, lives in Norfolk, Connecticut.

Marianna Mayer lives in Roxbury, Connecticut.

"I see folktales and myths as humankind's first stories," says Marianna Mayer. "They are a kind of collective dreaming, filled with timeless symbols and images we can all relate to, regardless of age or culture. And, much as an oyster must be disturbed by a grain of sand in order for the pearl to be created, I often choose to retell stories in which I find unresolved fragments that are somehow perplexing to me."

Though widely known as a children's book writer, Marianna Mayer's early education focused on visual art. "It seems to me there was never a time when I didn't want to be an artist, " she says. "I liked to tell stories with pictures and compose music. My sister and I put on plays made up from my stories. And then I decided to start writing a book, at the age of nine." She published her first book at the age of nineteen. After college, she studied painting at the Art Students League in New York City. Her experiences as an artist provided many images that she began to incorporate into writing. Gradually, she shifted to the written word as a medium of expression. She explains, "I began to feel more freedom when using words as my paints and plots as my canvases.

"While in the midst of a writing project, I live so much in my mind that what takes place in my imagination becomes quite real to me. I try to become part of the culture of a particular tale as much as possible. While working on Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave, for example, I read all I could about Russia. What I learned about Slavic mythology helped to deepen my understanding of the story. I listened to Russian music, ate Russian food (which I love!), and tried in other small ways to enter into the essence of that culture."

"My writing is deeply personal. First and foremost I write for the child who still lives within me. Then to the child in others, whether that child resides in a young person or an adult. I'm striving to reach out to that spirit of wonder within us all. The stories I was told as a child, those half-remembered folktales and myths, have become the foundation for what I continue to work on in my books. The sense of hope that books instilled in me as a child saw me through many difficult times. Because of this, I choose characters who face overwhelming odds but triumph through courage and perseverance. Similarly, myth allows a child to believe in his or her own dreams and can instill a boundless hope for the future."

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 12, 2013

    This is another book that I would have bought solely for the art

    This is another book that I would have bought solely for the artwork.  And this is another book that I keep in my bookcase and not in my son's. 
    Marianna Mayer's retelling of the fairy tale of the twelve dancing princesses is beautifully, wonderfully and movingly executed.  Her version is strong enough to stand alone, without any illustrations.  That would be a pity, however, because the artwork is phenomenal.
    K.Y. Craft paints with such brilliance that you can hear the silk dresses rustle and feel the kiss of every flower's petal.  And every single illustration is so breathtakingly beautiful and detailed that I, like the princesses, become lost within the tale.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 11, 2013

    this was one of my favorite books growing up! i would spend hou

    this was one of my favorite books growing up! i would spend hours looking at the beautiful illustrations that are like artwork and imagining myself as one of the princesses. i just got married and gifted this to my flower girl for christmas, and i know this will be one of her favorites too as she grows up, and i hope she remembers me each time she reads it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2011

    Beautifully illustrated!

    One of the classic fairy tales, gorgeously illustrated by K.Y. Craft and told by Marianna Mayer. A beautiful book. Perfect for reading aloud and studying the details of the pictures with a child.

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  • Posted March 29, 2010

    beautiful but challenging for a 3 year old.

    Bought this for my 3 year old and it is a little long and challenging ... I'm sure she'll love it in a few years. Beautifully illustrated

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2007

    A reviewer

    My mother gave this book to me on Easter when I was four or five years old, and I remember it to this day. I cannot recommend this book or any of Kinuko Y. Craft's other illustrated fairy tales enough.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 18, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews

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