12 Books of Christmas – #1 Grimm Tales – Philip Pullman

I know technically the twelve days of Christmas start on 25th of December but I’m feeling so festive I thought I’d bring it forward (besides who is still singing the song at the beginning of January anyway!?!) and celebrate by looking at my favourite reads this year!

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‘Grimm Tales’ was something I had been meaning to read for a while but it was only after a very enthusiastic review from a colleague that I finally got round to picking the book up and I’m so pleased I did.  I’m always a bit wary when anybody touches the classics so I think that’s probably why I never quite got round to reading Pullman’s take on the Grimm’s stories earlier but I was really surprised at how easily and faithfully Pullman had managed to merge his writing style with that of the Grimm brothers.  ‘Grimm Tales’ is a sort of anthology of Pullman’s favourite tales. Since he has hand-picked them he has attempted to lovingly restore and re-edit them to both  tighten the structures and by using plain English, make the stories feel less archaic.  What I also love about this edition is that after each story,  Pullman provides a short commentary about the history of the tale as well as explaining any alterations he has made and occassionally he details how he would change or continue the story.

‘Grimms Tales’ features the usual mix of wicked step-mothers,  trapped princesses and valiant princes alongside some familiar sounding tales such as ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, ‘Snow White’ and Cinderella’ but what suprised me was the amount of lesser known tales that to me seemed to break the Grimm canon I knew and were just as great as their more famous counterparts. Pullman has chosen his fifty stories well – there wasn’t a dud in there and I’m so glad I’ve finally read it.

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