To be honest, my only real interaction with fairy tales prior to reading Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales: For Young and Old was from watching Disney movies and reading a plethora of retellings over the years. For some reason I never actually made a point to read the Grimms’ tales themselves, or even anything remotely similar. It wasn’t until I happened upon this book in a store in the Edinburgh airport that I decided it was maybe finally time to read them–and in what better form than a book by Philip Pullman, writer of The Golden Compass?
What I really appreciate about this collection of stories is that they are told with that classic fairy tale charm that Pullman does so well. They’re not retold in a modern setting or given a creative twist; rather, they’re simply retold based on a conglomeration of Pullman’s research on the origins of each tale. While I immensely enjoyed reading the stories, my favorite aspect of this collection was actually the section after each story where Pullman explains a bit of its history. He also shares his thought process behind any editorial decisions he may have made. Did he favor one storyteller’s version of the ending over another’s? Was there a character that he gave a greater or lesser role to? What does he see as being the main function of the story? I loved gaining these little insights into how Pullman retold these stories. His authorial voice acts as the common thread tying this amalgamation of stories together.
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I read this book in various airports and flights, which ended up being the perfect setting. I would highly recommend Grimm Tales as a great book to take traveling because a) the stories are captivating and entertaining, b) they’re concise, which is ideal for reading in short bursts in distracting places, and c) the stories don’t relate to each other, so you can easily put this book down and pick it up again later without having to worry about remembering where you left off. There’s also something really comforting about reading these familiar stories, which is a bonus if you’re like me and get nervous or stressed while traveling.
It was also really interesting to read fairy tales I thought I was familiar with from Disney movies or other retellings. How different the actual versions are from what we’re shown as kids! I loved the dark, rather sinister, clever twists incorporated in the earlier versions. Among my favorites were Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Rumpelstiltskin. I wish someone would make movies based on the original versions of the stories rather than the romanticized ones we’re shown when we’re young. They would be so interesting to watch!
Overall, I’m so glad that I randomly stumbled upon this book in the Edinburgh airport. Not only was it the perfect book to take traveling, but it also reminded me how much I enjoy reading short story collections and Philip Pullman’s writing in general. If you’re looking for a book to take with you on your summer adventures, then look no further than Grimm Tales!
What are your thoughts on Grimm Tales? Do you have a favorite fairy tale? What do you like to read when you’re traveling? Let me know in the comments section below!