An Illustrated Treasury of Swedish Folk and Fairy Tales illustrated by John Bauer.
One of our Staff Favourites of 2019, as chosen by Mark.
If you relish tales of dark forests, wild creatures, marauding monsters, brave boys and girls and sinister spellcasters, and if you appreciate jaw-dropping illustrations of all of the above, you are my kind of person and you too will relish this book.
Among many other fantastic creatures in this collection, the stars of the show have to be the trolls. Trolls are wild, ill-mannered creatures who neither understand human morality nor welcome human habitations. You feel for them at times, especially in stories like The Changlings and When Mother Troll Took in the King's Washing in which trolls try (and inevitably fail) to fit in with the ever-expanding human realm. Tomtes, on the other hand, are small house spirits who live secretly under the roofs of humans and do what they can to help and protect their hosts. These two creatures come into direct conflict in The Trolls and the Youngest Tomte, which suggests a hidden war that sees trolls stealing things from humans and tomtes retrieving them.
There are so many wonderful, surprising stories here, even for those well-read in folk and fairy tales. I should also point out there's a pleasingly natural mix of girl and boy heroes. Then there's the illustrations, providing the perfect atmospheric backdrop. John Bauer was an extraordinarily talented draughtsman and printmaker. He died tragically young at 36 in a steamboat accident. His legacy of exquisitely imagined and rendered illustrations deserves to be preserved, treasured and passed on. Among the many fantasy artists influenced by Bauer's work is Brian Froud, concept designer on the Jim Henson films Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal.
This centenary edition of An Illustrated Treasury of Swedish Folk and Fairy Tales is published by Floris Books, the largest Scottish publisher of children's books. They publish a range of international books in translation as well as high quality illustrated gift books that include illustrated treasuries of Scottish Folk and Fairy Tales, Scottish Mythical Creatures and Scottish Castle Legends (all also available from The Alligator's Mouth).
If you get inspiration from our reviews, please consider purchasing from The Alligator's Mouth. You can find this book here on our online store (free UK postage on orders under £10) or in the shop.