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The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen

4.1 16
by Hans Christian Andersen

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One of the best loved of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales, this retelling of The Snow Queen is both delightful and accessible.

These timeless, classic stories have been gloriously illustrated and made accessible for younger children to read alone, or for all the family to enjoy together. This fresh approach brings the stories and their characters to


One of the best loved of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales, this retelling of The Snow Queen is both delightful and accessible.

These timeless, classic stories have been gloriously illustrated and made accessible for younger children to read alone, or for all the family to enjoy together. This fresh approach brings the stories and their characters to life. There are also special pages giving background detail to set the scene of each story.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Lewis's commanding translation of this Andersen classic rings with nobility even as it maintains a colloquial jauntiness. The famously gripping narrative, of tender-hearted Gerda's epic quest to rescue her friend Kay from the frozen realm of the Snow Queen, is respectfully and insightfully introduced by Lewis. She points out, for example, that, of all of Andersen's major tales, The Snow Queen is ``the most free from ill fortune, sorrow, unkind chance'' and that its protagonists ``make their own luck, good or bad, as they go''; and that it is the ``only great classic fairy tale in which every positive character is a girl or woman . . . while the victim to be rescued is a boy.'' Barrett (see review of Beware Beware , above) contributes gentle watercolor and pencil illustrations, evoking an ageless fairy-tale realm while a frisson of danger lingers beneath her flower-filled images. Pictures of icy wastes--a flurry of blue, white and violet--are especially striking. Inset illustrations and incidental art as well as full- and double-page pictures are interspersed throughout the very substantial text in an agreeable book design that accommodates the youngest members of the target audience. Ages 4-up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
For young readers there is an adaptation of a traditional winter favorite with beautiful illustrations. Peachy retells the story of the Snow Queen with the help of award winning illustrator P. J. Lynch.
Children's Literature - Dr. Judy Rowen
Kay and Gerda are best friends and next-door neighbors. When the Snow Queen carries off Kay, Gerda sets out to find him. During her quest, she encounters many wondrous people and places. Throughout her adventure, she maintains her childlike innocence and faith; therein lies her power and strength. The cycle of seasons, repeated in the tale, is emphasized in the watercolor and pencil illustrations.
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale is retold in its entirety making this book lengthy but worth every page. It is an old-fashioned storybook with exciting chapters and lots of sumptuous illustrations frosting the pages. The Snow Queen is a stirring account of a young girl's courageous attempts to save her best friend. This rendition of Anderson's tribute to the power of love is beautifully translated, charming to the end.
School Library Journal
Gr 2-6-A beautifully illustrated translation of Andersen's well-known tale about the power of innocence and love triumphing over evil. The varying moods of Barrett's watercolor-and-pencil scenes perfectly complement the curious story. Softly glowing paintings of the two fair-skinned, sweet-faced children contrast with the stark, dramatic coldness of the Snow Queen's realm and the fantastic, almost eerie atmosphere of the robber band's forest hideout. The story's religious overtones are subtly echoed in the pictures: a cross formed by the topmost branches of an evergreen in Gerda's path; the cloud of angels surrounding the girl; her handful of white lillies at the end. Charming illustrative touches amidst double spreads of two-columned text highlight moments in the story. Both pages of text and full-page pictures are bordered by a fine black line, and the number of each chapter is decorated with a small vignette corresponding to that section of the tale. Surpassing all available translations and adaptations in its pictorial evocation of the story's essence, this version is sure to become the one of choice in most collections.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Publishers Weekly
Italian illustrator Baroni’s background in character design brings a fantasy aesthetic to Godeau’s retelling of this Andersen fairy tale. Kay and Gerda are drawn as older children with lean features and blousy peasant clothing; Gerda’s hair often blows dramatically in the wind. Godeau follows Andersen’s original closely, though the translation is graceless in places: “But, the weight of the mirror caused his arms to fiercely shake.” Godeau recounts Kay’s enchantment as he is pierced and frozen by shards of a magic mirror and then captured by the Snow Queen. Gerda’s journey to the North to find Kay is told as a series of episodic encounters with colorful characters: a sorceress, a talking reindeer, and many more. Baroni’s most remarkable creation is the Snow Queen’s black castle, shown on the endpapers; soaring up from two mountain peaks, it features a dizzying aerial bridge and dozens of lit windows. For an older audience, this is a version of the tale that offers a bit of an edge, visually bridging the worlds of classic fairy tales and game culture. Ages 7–up. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
-- Vogue.com

"These two volumes – reprints of Andersen’s classic fairy tales – are published in new hardcover editions featuring illustrations by Finnish illustrator Annukka. Annukka has designed for Marimekko previously, and incorporates Finnish mythological symbols into her distinctive screenprint illustrations." 
-- Publishers Weekly 

Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
An icy blue cover with an art deco Snow Queen sets the tone for this lush retelling of Andersen’s classic tale about a child kidnapped by an icy villain and rescued by a bravely, determined girl. It may be by design that Batoulline’s illustrations of the Snow Queen bear a strong resemblance to Charlize Theron’s role of evil queen in Snow White and the Huntsman. Be warned: this retelling is not for the faint of heart. As in any traditional fairy tale, evil prevails. We see this not only in the Snow Queen but also in the revolting troll whose broken mirror shards penetrate Kai’s heart and the sword-wielding robber band that captures Gerda on her journey of adventure to save Kai. However, there is also fabled kindness from a lovely royal couple who embrace Gerda’s mission and clothe her in silk before sending her off in a golden coach. Batoulline’s illustrations are exquisitely rendered and near photographic in their realism and detail. Princess-obsessed little girls will love the picture of the royal couple, Gerda’s patrons, in beautiful garments edged with fur. In another image, the Aurora Borealis does, indeed, shimmer and dance on the page as Gerda wends her way north to the Snow Queen’s palace. One important element of this tale is the presence of a strong female role model in Gerda, a child with determination and courage beyond her age. With Disney’s animated Frozen out now, this similarly themed book should see high demand. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross AGERANGE: Ages 3 to 8.
Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
Anthea Bell retells the classic story of the snow queen, created by Hans Christian Anderson, as a “Tale in Seven Stories.” Each story focuses on a different piece of the adventures of Gerda and Kay as the broken glass of an evil mirror and the infamous Snow Queen impacts them. In the first story, we are introduced to the mirror created by a devil; it’s destruction lets loose glass shards that perpetuate evil around all who are injured by a shard. The second story introduces us to Gerda and Kay, two children who care for each other deeply but are torn apart when Kay is hurt by a glass shard and is taken by the Snow Queen to live with her in her palace. The third through sixth stories focus on Gerda’s travels as she searches for Kay and the final story shares her triumphant reunion with Kay and their return home. The illustrations throughout are absolutely magnificent in design and execution and support the surreal nature of Gerda and Kay’s experiences. This book would be a beautiful addition to any library and a solid introduction to Hans Christian Andersen’s other tales. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.; Ages 6 to 10.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-08-15
One of the great illustrators of our time takes on one of the knottier Andersen fairy tales, producing a gorgeous and winning result. MacDonald's retelling hews closely to Andersen's original in all its complexity but without its Christian allusions. It begins with a prologue: A wicked troll creates a mirror in which everything good looks hideous, and everything evil looks entrancing. The mirror breaks into millions of tiny pieces and pollutes the world. In winter, when Gerda's grandmother tells the story of the Snow Queen to Gerda and her friend Kai, the window flies open, and Kai is pierced by a tiny shard of the troll mirror. He insults Gerda, dashes outside and is whisked away on his sled by the Snow Queen herself. Gerda does not believe he is dead and searches through many adventures and adversities to find and rescue him. Ibatoulline's paintings are a wonder of form and color. On one spread, the icy queen wraps Kai completely in her blue and gray fur blanket; on the next, Gerda takes a boat on a sunlit river in a golden spring to find him. There are princesses and robbers, mysterious crows and talking reindeer. Ibatoulline renders the northern lights more exquisitely than any photograph. A deep subtext of love and loss, childhood and awakening, power and trust resonate through these pages at least as strongly as the magnificent images. (Picture book/fairy tale. 7-12)

Product Details

Candlewick Press
Publication date:
Works in Translation
Product dimensions:
8.68(w) x 10.43(h) x 0.18(d)
Age Range:
7 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

The Snow Queen

By Hans Christian Andersen, Lucie Arnoux

Steerforth Press

Copyright © 2015 Pushkin Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-78269-103-7



The Mirror and the Pieces

Listen closely! We're about to begin. And when we reach the end of the tale, let's hope we know more than we do now, for it concerns an evil goblin, one of the very worst – the Devil himself! One day, the Devil was feeling mighty pleased with himself because he'd made a special mirror. The mirror took anything that was good or lovely and shrank it to almost nothing. But if something was useless or bad, the mirror magnified it and made it look even worse. The most charming landscape looked like boiled spinach in the mirror, while the nicest people turned nasty or stood on their heads with their middles missing, and their faces so twisted that nobody knew who they were. And if you had a freckle, you could be sure that the mirror would stretch it across your entire mouth and nose. "What a hoot!" cried the Devil. If someone had a kind thought, then a sneer would appear in the mirror, which made the old goblin laugh at his own cunning. The goblins who went to goblin school – for you see, the Devil ran a goblin school – all chattered about the miracle. They thought that now they could see what humans and the world really looked like. They ran everywhere with the mirror and, in the end, there was not one person or country that it didn't twist out of shape.

Then the goblins decided to fly up to Heaven, to mock the angels and God himself. The higher they flew with the mirror, the harder it laughed, and they could barely hold onto it. Higher and higher they flew, nearer and nearer to God and the angels – and then the mirror shook so hard with laughter that it slipped from their hands and tumbled down to earth, where it shattered into millions and billions of pieces.

That created more trouble than ever. Some pieces were hardly bigger than a grain of sand, and they flew all around the wide world – and whenever a piece got in someone's eye, it stuck fast. Then the person could only see what was wrong with everything, because each of these tiny bits had the same power as the whole mirror. Some people also got a sliver of mirror in their hearts – and that was truly terrible, because it turned their hearts into lumps of ice. Sometimes a piece was large enough to use as a windowpane; but it was no good looking at your friends through a window like that. Other pieces ended up in eyeglasses – and then it was awful when people put them on in order to see and do things properly.

It all tickled the Devil so much that he roared with laughter and his belly nearly split. All the while, more and more tiny shards of glass were flying about in the air.

And now we'll hear what happened next!



A Little Boy, a Little Girl

In the big city, there are so many houses and people that hardly anyone has room for a small garden. So most people have to make do with flowers in pots. And in this city lived two poor children who felt lucky, because they had a garden that was a bit larger than a flowerpot. They weren't brother and sister, yet they loved each other just as if they had been. Their parents lived right next to each other, in the garrets – the attic rooms – of two neighbouring buildings. Where the one roof jutted up against the other, a rain gutter ran between them and a small window poked out from each garret. If you stepped over the gutter, you could go out of one window and into the other.

Outside the windows, each family had a large wooden planter. In these boxes they grew herbs that they used for cooking, and a small rosebush that did very well. The parents came up with the idea of placing the two planters across the gutter, stretching nearly all the way from one window to the other and creating two banks of flowers. Pea shoots hung down over the edges of the planters, while the rosebushes sent out long stems that twined around the windows and nodded to each other, making a triumphal arch of greenery and blossom. The boxes were high and the children knew not to climb on them, but their parents had made a platform on the roof between the planters, and the children were allowed to go out and sit under the roses on their two little stools. There they would play together marvellously.

But when winter came, that pleasure was past. Often the windows frosted over completely. Then each child would heat a copper penny on the stove and lay the hot coin against the frozen pane to form a wonderful peephole – so round, so perfectly round. Through it peeked two sweet, gentle eyes, one from each window: the little boy and the little girl. His name was Kai and her name was Gerda. In the summer they could get to each other with a single leap, but in the winter they had to first go down many flights of stairs and then back up many more, while the snow flew around outside.

"The white bees are swarming," Grandmother said.

"Do they have a queen too?" asked Kai, because he knew that the real bees had a queen.

"They do!" said the old woman. "She flies just where they swarm the thickest. She's the biggest bee of all and she never rests on the ground, she just flies up again in a black cloud. Night after night, she flies through the winter streets of the city and peers into people's windows. And then the windows frost up with strange and curious patterns – just like flowers."

"Yes, we've seen them!" the children both exclaimed. And they knew then that Grandmother was telling the truth.

"Can the Snow Queen come in here?" asked Gerda.

"Just let her try," Kai said. "I'll set her on the hot stove, and then she'll melt."

But Grandmother said nothing. She just smoothed back the boy's hair and told other stories.

Back home that evening, when Kai was half undressed, he crawled up on the chair by the window and peered out of the tiny hole. A few snowflakes fell outside, and the largest of them hung on the edge of one flowerbox. The snowflake grew bigger and bigger, till at last it became an entire woman. She was clothed in the finest white gauze, which looked like it had been made from millions of starry flakes. She was exquisite but she was ice – dazzling, flashing ice – even though she was alive. Her eyes shone like two bright stars, but there was no peace or rest in them. She nodded toward the window and motioned with her hand. The boy became frightened and jumped off his chair; it was as if a giant bird had flown past the window outside.

The next day there came a clear frost – and then spring arrived. The sun shone, the green peeped out of the trees and bushes, the swallows built nests. Then the windows were lifted from their sills, and the small children sat once more in their tiny garden by the roof gutter, high above all the other floors below.

That summer the roses bloomed like never before. Gerda had learned a hymn and it had something about roses in it; the song made her think of her own roses. She sang it for Kai and he sang with her:

In the valleys, the roses grow
The child of God we'll come to know

And the children held hands, kissed the roses, and gazed into the blessed bright sunshine, speaking to it as if the child of God was really there. How lovely the summer days were and how pleasant, there among the cheerful roses that seemed as if they would never stop blooming.

One day, Kai and Gerda sat together looking at a picture book with animals and birds. It was then – just as the clock in the great steeple struck five – that Kai cried, "Ow! Something stung me in the heart! And now I've got something in my eye!"

Gerda placed her arms around his neck; he was blinking hard. But no, there was nothing to be seen in his eye.

"I think it's gone," he said. But it wasn't gone. It was one of those splinters of glass from the shattered mirror, the Devil's mirror. You remember – the terrible mirror that turned anything great and good into something puny and ugly – the glass that made anything plain or evil look bigger, that made every blemish or mistake stick out. And a splinter had gone right into his heart too. Soon it would become just like a lump of ice. The splinter no longer hurt – but it was there all the same.

"What are you crying for?" he asked. "You look revolting when you cry. There's nothing wrong with me!" he shouted. "Ugh! a worm's been chewing on that rose! And look, that other one's crooked! They're disgusting! They look as ugly as the box they're in!" He kicked the planter hard and tore both roses from their stems.

"Kai, what are you doing?" cried Gerda. And when he saw how frightened she was, he tore off another rose and left, going in through his window and away from his sweet young friend.

Afterwards, anytime she came by with the picture book, he would say it was for babies, and when Grandmother told stories, he always made some objection. Whenever he could, he'd put on a pair of glasses and walk behind the old woman, mimicking the way she spoke. It was uncanny; it made people laugh. Soon he was able to speak and walk just like everyone on their street. He could imitate anything that was odd or unattractive about them, and people said, "What a talent that boy has!" But it was the splinter of glass lodged in his eye – and the splinter lodged in his heart – that made him tease others, even young Gerda, who adored him with all her heart.

His games were quite different now from what they had been before he'd become so clever. One winter day, as snowflakes flew around, he came by with a big magnifying glass and held out a flap of his blue coat, letting the flakes fall onto it.

"Here! Look through the glass, Gerda," he said. The magnifying glass made each snowflake appear much larger – like a splendid flower or a six-pointed star, lovely to look at.

"See, how cunning!" said Kai. "Much more interesting than real flowers. And they don't have a single flaw. They're perfectly symmetrical – as long as they don't melt."

Kai showed up again a little while later, with his big gloves on and his sled over his shoulder. He yelled into Gerda's ear: "I've got permission to go sledding on the main square with the other boys!" And off he went.

Over on the square, the boldest boys kept trying to fasten their sleds to farmers' carts, so that they would be pulled along behind. It was great fun. As they were playing, a large sleigh came driving past. The sleigh was painted white, and in it sat a figure wrapped in a coat and wearing a hat of white fur. The sleigh made two circuits of the square. Quickly, Kai tied his sled behind it and, just like that, he was being pulled along. They went faster and faster before turning into the next street. The driver of the sleigh turned around and nodded to Kai in a friendly fashion, as if they knew each other. Every time that Kai thought about leaning forward to untie his little sled, the figure would nod to him again, and then Kai would remain seated.

They drove straight out of the city gates and, as they sped away, the snow began to fall so furiously that he couldn't see his hand in front of his face. Then he let go of the rope, to free himself from the sleigh – but it was no use, his sled hung fast and kept rushing along like the wind. He shouted at the top of his lungs but no one seemed to hear him, and the snow whirled and his sled flew along, springing into the air now and then as if rushing over ditches and fences. He was scared now, and he tried to say his prayers, but all he could remember were his times tables.

The snowflakes grew larger and larger, till at last they looked like big white chickens. Suddenly they leapt to one side and the sleigh stopped. The driver stood up, fur coat and hat completely covered with snow. It was a lady, tall and erect, brilliantly white: it was the Snow Queen.

"We have come far," she said, "but it is freezing cold. Crawl into my bearskin!" And she took Kai into the sleigh with her and threw her fur around him. He felt as if he were sinking into a snowdrift.

"Are you still freezing?" she asked, and then she kissed his forehead. Ooh! Her kiss was colder than ice and went straight to his heart, which was already half frozen. He felt as if he would die – but only for a moment. Then he felt fine; he no longer noticed the chill around him.

"My sled!" was the first thing he remembered. "Don't forget my sled!" So it was tied to one of the white chickens, and after that the chicken flew with the sled on its back. The Snow Queen kissed Kai once more. Then he forgot young Gerda, and Grandmother, and everyone at home.

"No more kisses now," she said. "Otherwise, I'll kiss you to death."

Kai gazed at her. She was so beautiful, and he could not imagine a more intelligent, lovely face. She no longer seemed made of ice, like she had when she'd sat outside his window and waved at him. In his eyes the Snow Queen was perfect, and he didn't feel a bit scared. He told her that he knew how to do arithmetic in his head, and fractions, and how many square miles and inhabitants there were in different countries – and the whole time he was speaking, she smiled at him.

Then it seemed to him that what he knew wasn't nearly enough, and he looked up into the immense empty sky, and away she flew with him. They flew up high in a black cloud, and the storm whooshed and whistled as if it were singing old ballads. On they flew, over forest and lake, over land and sea. Beneath them the cold wind roared, the wolves howled, the snow sparkled, and across the snow flew black, screeching crows – while above them the moon shone large and bright, and Kai fixed his eyes upon it through the long, long winter night.

And when day came at last, Kai was sleeping at the feet of the Snow Queen.



The Flower Garden of the Old Woman Who Cast Spells

But how did Gerda feel when Kai didn't return? Where was he? Nobody knew; nobody could say. The boys only said that they'd seen him tie his sled to a large, magnificent sleigh that drove down the street and out of the city gates. No one knew where he was, and many tears fell; Gerda wept long and hard. Then they said that he was dead, that he'd sunk into the river that ran close to the city and drowned. Oh dear! Those winter days were long indeed.

Then spring arrived. And with it, warm sunshine.

"Kai is dead and gone!" Gerda cried.

"I don't believe it," the sunshine said.

"He's dead and gone!" she told the swallows.

"We don't believe it!" they replied. And in the end, Gerda didn't believe it either.

"I'm going to put on my new red shoes," she said early one morning. "The pair that Kai's never seen. And then I'm going down to ask the river."

It was very early. She kissed Grandmother as she slept, put on the red shoes, and walked out of the gates to the river, all alone.

"Is it true that you took my playmate?" she asked the river. "I'll give you my red shoes if you promise to give him back to me."

She thought that the waves nodded to her rather strangely. She took off her red shoes – the dearest things she owned – and threw them into the river. But they fell close to the shore, and the small waves bore them right back to where she was standing. As though the river didn't want to take her favourite belongings if it didn't have Kai.

But Gerda thought that perhaps she hadn't thrown her shoes out far enough. So she crawled onto a boat that nestled in the reeds. She went out to the end of the boat farthest from shore, and she threw the shoes out again. But the boat wasn't tied fast, and her movement made it glide away from shore. She hurried to climb out, but before she could, the boat had drifted almost a yard from the bank. And now it started to float downstream.

Gerda became quite frightened and started to cry. But no one heard her, except for the house sparrows – and they couldn't carry her to land. Instead, they flew along the banks and sang, as if to comfort her, "Here we are! Here we are!" The boat drifted with the current. Gerda sat very still in her stockinged feet. Her small red shoes floated behind, but they couldn't catch the boat, because it moved faster.


Excerpted from The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, Lucie Arnoux. Copyright © 2015 Pushkin Press. Excerpted by permission of Steerforth Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Natacha Godeau: Natacha Godeau specializes in adapting stories. She likes to reinvent traditional tales to make them accessible to everyone.

Christian Hans Andersen: Christian Hans Andersen was a Danish author and poet. He is mostly remembered for his worldwide known fairy tales like The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, and The Emperor's New Clothes.

Giorgio Baroni: Giorgio Baroni is a young Italian illustrator. His illustrations are always very realistic and dream-like which perfectly depicts the epic atmosphere of this tale.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
April 2, 1805
Date of Death:
August 4, 1875
Place of Birth:
Odense, Denmark
Place of Death:
Copenhagen, Denmark

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Snow Queen 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
That was such a sweet story. I recomend this for everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought that this book was very good, although it didn't remind me very much of the movie. The story was about a girl name Gerda and a boy named Kay, so it didn't tie with the movie being mainly about the two sisters 'Ana and Elsa'.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw this movie on Hallmark and it was fabulous. And now I've read the book and it was even more fabulous!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really cute story. Poor girl her foster-brother gets crazed in the head but do not i repeat DO NOT watch the movie until you have read the true story because they are very different
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was Totaly wicked, although I read it 1 million times I can't take my eyes of this book.I loved the part where little Gerda talked to the crow! But the worst bit is when Kay gets taken away by the Snow Queen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have not read this book so i really do not know but i hope it will be a good book !! I was shopinng on my nook and the book really caught my attention so that is why i hope that it will be great so have a nice day and thank you for reading my review#thanks
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I dont like that there is only pictures."I want words,I want words complained myself.I didnt care for this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The one who posted on april 4 2003 posted that on the day after i was born
Anonymous More than 1 year ago