By: Hans Christian Andersen
1800s (this version was published 1956)
This book appeared mysteriously in my possession around the same time as The Keeper of the Bees. I’m not sure where it came from or why, but I do know that it’s ancient.
But none of those are in this ancient collection. That doesn’t mean there aren’t greats in here. Here’s a listing of what you’ll find:
- “The Emperor’s New Clothes” – a hilarious classic satirizing human vanity
- “The Swineherd”
- “The Real Princess” – aka The Princess and the Pea
- “The Shoes of Fortune”
- “The Fir Tree”
- “The Snow Queen” – aka what Frozen is super loosely supposedly originally based on
- “The Leap-Frog”
- “The Elderbush”
- “The Bell”
- “The Old House”
- “The Happy Family”
- “The Story of a Mother”
- “The False Collar”
- “The Shadow” – probably my favorite
- “The Little Match Girl” – a story I distinctly remember reading as an elementary schooler and subsequently being horrendously traumatized
- “The Dream of Little Tuk”
- “The Naughty Boy”
- “The Red Shoes”
That’s it. Some of these stories are barely a page long and others are more like 10.
The most important thing you need to know about these stories? Hans Christian Andersen’s version of a “fairy tale” is not your Disney fairy tale. There are no Happily-Ever-Afters, or really any satisfying conclusions at all. Most of these stories end in death – children’s deaths, no less. They are highly moralistic. They are literally fairy tales, meaning fantastical or even actually dealing with fairies.
They are sad.
Even the happy ones are sad.
It was a sad time. Children needed to understand dying and death and the ways of the cruel world.
That doesn’t mean these aren’t wonderful stories and wildly interesting historical artifacts. It’s insane to think about how these have been remolded into our modern-day fairy tales.
But maybe don’t pick this one up to read to the kiddos.
If you’re a fan of Andersen, here are some suggestions:
(for more fairy tales)
Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales by the Brothers Grimm
Aesop’s Fables by Aesop
The Complete Fairy Tales by Charles Perrault
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling
The Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter
Hans Christian Andersen’s Complete Collection by Hans Christian Andersen
The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus by Joel Chandler Harris
(for children’s lit you can learn something from)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Color of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa
Letters from Rapunzel by Sara Lewis Holmes
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem
Growing Up by Russell Baker