There is something intrinsically special about touching a hardcover book covered in gold leaf illustrations, especially if that book has also been blessed with a design that takes your breath away.
This christmas I was given the Folio Society collection of fairy tales and fables by my mum and dad. It came as a total surprise (I had conveniently forgotten that I’d pointed them in that direction) when after unwrapping the christmassy paper and tearing into the large (and heavy) cardboard box I found 6 stunning books staring back at me.
Not only am I a total sucker for hardbound, cloth covered, and gold stamped books, but I am also a sucker for fairy tales. I absolutely champion the fact that they are opening up a world of fantasy to our children (and adults), offering them the chance to widen their imagination and escape, truly escape, into a world of make-believe where everything and anything is possible.
How many people knew that Disney films such as Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood stemmed from stories written by frenchman Charles Perrault in the late 1600’s? Or that the iconic story of the Tortoise and the Hare is from one of Aesop’s fables, believed to have been written by slave and story-teller Aesop in ancient Greece? These stories have survived endless human upheaval and are still as relevant today as they were in their early years. Some do undoubtedly carry heavy moral predications, whereas others are more whimsical (and perhaps subtle) in tone. But they all offer a creative space to fall in love with, or in to, like Alice in Through the Looking Glass. Sadly Lewis Carroll wasn’t part of this collection, but there are more christmases to be had!
My personal favourite are the stories by the brother’s Grimm. They are vivid in their imagination, painting an environment mixing light and dark matters in a way that is enthralling to both child and adult alike. Their work includes such well known classics as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Sleeping Beauty (which is said to be a reincarnation of a Perrault tale) and Rapunzel, but also less popularised stories such as The Six Swans. H C Andersen will always have a special spot in my heart, it is with these stories I grew up and they tug at my heartstrings like no other. The Little Match Girl is featured in my own title Let Her Go.
But now starts an adventure from a land far away, and what is thought to be many many years ago. I have broken the back of Arabian Nights and expect to be whisked away on a flying carpet to the land of plenty, accompanied by characters such as Ali Baba and Scheherazade. Let the excitement begin.