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THE SWAN'S STORIES by Hans Christian Andersen


by Hans Christian Andersen & illustrated by Chris Riddell & translated by Brian Alderson

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 1-56402-894-1
Publisher: Candlewick

Alderson (The Brothers Grimm, p. 299, etc.) translates 12 stories, some of which he previously published (e.g., in his edition of Andrew Lang's The Yellow Fairy Book, 1980, etc.). ``The Steadfast Tin Soldier'' and ``The Fir Tree'' are here, but so are stories about the lives of other inanimate objects: darning needle, collar, porcelain toys. Among Andersen's classics, these stories are relatively obscure, of interest only to adult laborers in the children's book field: They seem set up to house sarcastic social commentary (``The Collar''), and many just trail off instead of ending. ``The Money Pig'' ends as a piggy bank crashes to the floor, but the action in the story is almost incoherent to contemporary children. ``Grief,'' about a child who lacks the trouser-button entry fee to gain a glimpse of a pug dog's grave, trammels budding interest with this closing line: ``So that's the story, and if any of you don't understand it, then you can go and take some shares in the widow's tannery.'' A swan—a Father Gooselike figure—leads children from story to story, but doesn't make it any easier for them to drink. Riddell's charmingly appropriate full-color illustrations and black-and-white spot drawings, as well as the meticulous and graceful layout, make the book a welcome addition to any shelf- -but getting children to read it is an entirely different matter. (glossary) (Fiction/folklore. 7-11)