Elegant figures in medieval dress give the illustrations for this revue of stock European folk-tale settings and characters (plus some modern hangers-on) a classic air.
The lavish detailing begins on the cover with a view of a pumpkin carriage nearly hidden by gnomes and pigs, a wolf in granny clothing, a golden goose and other recognizable figures. Following a title page crammed with images—including slippers both glass and ruby—thematic spreads inside map out typical fairy-tale locales. These include the populous “Great Forest,” “Right Royal Homes & Gardens,” and a busy cobbled street with a pied piper marching rats past a booted kitty (“Who is this well-dressed traveler?”) and “Geppetto’s Toy Shop” as Peter Pan soars overhead. Other spreads present galleries of cast-member types, notably a bevy of lissome princesses with heavy-lidded, come-hither looks. Along with numerous die-cut flaps and gatefolds, four inset booklets offer nonviolent versions of “Hansel and Gretel” (the witch is pushed into Hansel’s cage rather than the oven and later carted off to jail) and three other chestnuts. The bland proceedings close with a pop-up wedding scene, because “[n]o fairy-tale book would be complete without a wedding.”
Even begging the conflation of traditional folklore with The Wizard of Oz and other folkloric fantasy, readers familiar with the originals will barely recognize these coy renditions. (Pop-up nonfiction. 6-9)