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American Fairytales


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Gr 4-8-An impressive collection of 12 stories representing the development of the American fairy tale from 1819 to 1922. Leaving behind the gloomy atmosphere and more formal language of their European counterparts, these literary selections reflect the landscape, egalitarian philosophy, and forward-looking optimism of America. Washington Irving's "Rip Van Winkle" is firmly placed in the Kaatskill Mountains, while Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Feathertop" is filled with New England superstitions. The contentment of ordinary life is emphasized in Horace E. Scudder's "The Rich Man's Place" and Laura E. Richards's "The Golden Windows." The heroine of Louisa May Alcott's "Rosy's Journey" is solidly self-reliant, and the protagonists in Howard Pyle's "The Apple of Contentment" and Ruth Plumly Thompson's "The Princess Who Could Not Dance" are cheerful and independent. L. Frank Baum's "The Glass Dog" and Carl Sandburg's "How They Broke Away to Go to the Rootabaga Country" portray inventiveness and the pioneer spirit. Sandburg's tale, as well as M.S.B.'s "What They Did Not Do on the Birthday of Jacob Abbott B., Familiarly Called Snibbuggledyboozledom," employ a unique American idiom with their zany words and phrases. Independent readers may find the archaic writing of some of these selections difficult to deal with; others are quite readable. Each story is introduced by information about the author; sources are included. McCurdy's skillfully executed black-and-white woodcuts, both full-page scenes and vignettes, illustrate each tale. This volume provides a rich read-aloud for families who like quality literature, and will also be of interest to children's-literature students and folklorists.-Judith L. Miller, formerly at Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, IN

once upon a time in america While fairy tales are usually associated with European sources like the Brothers Grimm, American Fairy Tales: From Rip Van Winkle to the Rootabaga Stories, edited by Neil Philip, preface by Alison Lurie, illus. by Michael McCurdy, defines a unique heritage on this side of the Atlantic. The selections include both familiar and little-known tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, L. Frank Baum and, as the title suggests, Washington Irving and Carl Sandburg. McCurdy's dramatic black-and-white woodcut prints add an eerie edge to the distinctive stories, which are a cut above the more usual, normalizing fairy tale retellings. Headnotes for each story provide brief biographies of the authors.

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