Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, a new version from Phillip Pullman

by Michelle M

Fairy_Tales_from_the_Brothers_GrimmAs a book reviewer, I received a copy of the book for review purposes.

I love fairy tales. I grew up reading them, and my mom still has my Mother Goose collection. Remember that big book with the black and white checked background? As I grew older, I created my own fairy tale collection, so when I had the chance to read Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman, I jumped at it.

Fairy tales are popular right now. Movie adaptations and popular TV series like Once Upon a Time feature reinvented fairy tales.

Philip Pullman’s Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm does the opposite. Instead of taking the fairy tales as we know them today and expanding from there. Instead, he goes back to the basics, recreating the original, bare bones tales as best he could from texts, adding only details needed to make the stories flow better – many of which needed no such assistance.

The fairy tales include many that I’d never heard before. While they include classics like “Cinderella” and “Rapunzel” and “Hansel and Gretel,” there were plenty of others from “The Three Snake Leaves” to “The Donkey Cabbage” to “The Singing Bone” that were brand new to me. It was a nice mixture, and the commentary from Pullman – usually just a few paragraphs at most – left me feeling as though I’d learned something more than just a quick dip into childhood fairy tales.

The fairy tales are never repeated, though Pullman explains that they take many forms in many cultures, in addition to the multiple versions he waded through not just in German but in the Grimm Brothers’ various publications of their fairy tales over a 40 year period. I would love to see another collection that contained four or five fairy tales with five or ten of the best variations on the theme done in a similar manner. Perhaps this could be Pullman’s next project.

For the most part, the ones in this book follow the typical fairy tale formula of a generic character – a prince or a merchant or a brother instead of a name – who is simply but fully developed without much description through fast paced action. They aren’t fables, and they haven’t been prettied up to suit our modern tastes for a happy ending. There are be-headings, plenty of villains punished by being rolled in a barrel with studded nails, and heads cut off all manner of people and beasts.

And the book is entertaining. The stories are a quick read, and they are cute. They aren’t deep by any means, but they aren’t meant to be. And while this is a book of fairy tales, I certainly wouldn’t simply hand it to Mister Man. Some of the stories aren’t aimed for today’s children. That said, there are some stories in here that I’d love to read to the wee ones at bedtime.

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Michelle only wishes her life were as simple as a fairy tale, where she could find the magic leaf that would clean the house instantly or provide her with a gold coin under her pillow each night. Instead she lives the more typical life of a mortal instead of a fairy tale character. See what her life has dealt her on her blog Honest & Truly! or follow her on Twitter where she tweets as @HonestAndTruly.



Email Author    |    Website About Michelle M

Michelle is a stay at home mom of Mister Man (8) and Little Miss (6). When she's not out volunteering or running children to therapy or practices, you can find her in the kitchen or on her personal blog Honest & Truly where there's always a good story or new recipe or at her review blog Honest And Truly Reviews. You can also connect with her on Twitter.

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{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristie October 28, 2013 at 9:00 am

I’m interested in checking out “Rapunzel”

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2 anne October 28, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I’m interested in Cinderella.

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3 riTa October 28, 2013 at 5:04 pm

Either The Three Feathers or The Four Accomplished Brothers

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4 Marti Tabora October 28, 2013 at 5:25 pm

I would like to check out “The Singing Bone”. I have never heard of it before. Thank you.

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5 Daniel B. ( October 28, 2013 at 7:04 pm

Three Snake Leaves sounds interesting…

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6 Wehaf October 28, 2013 at 7:32 pm

I’ve always liked The Donkey Cabbages; I’d love to read a reconstruction of the original!

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7 Kerry October 28, 2013 at 9:08 pm

I’m looking forward to seeing this take on “The Singing Bone”

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8 Cindi October 28, 2013 at 10:15 pm

The Singing Bone!
Thanks, Cindi

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9 marian boll October 29, 2013 at 12:28 am

For my granddaughters, Snow White

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10 nickie October 29, 2013 at 9:20 am

The Singing Bone!

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11 DEBIJOT October 29, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I would like to check out The Singing Bone.

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12 Lacey Burd October 29, 2013 at 3:30 pm

I am most interested in reading the more unknown fairy tales. Something I haven’t heard of yet!

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13 Tabathia B October 29, 2013 at 4:46 pm

hansel and gretel

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14 Daniel M October 29, 2013 at 8:55 pm

always liked cinderella

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15 Mer October 30, 2013 at 10:50 am

I’m not familiar with the Donkey Cabbage, so that one sounds interesting! Cinderella’s always been one of my favorites as well, though I’m sure this book has the version with a rather gruesome fate for the stepsisters.

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16 Stephanie October 30, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Cinderella. This book sounds so great! Thanks for the giveaway.

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17 Karen Lynch October 31, 2013 at 9:48 am

The Girl with No Hands sounds interesting.

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18 Anita Yancey November 1, 2013 at 3:49 pm

I am interested in checking out Rapunzel.

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19 Sarah Marshall November 2, 2013 at 12:12 am

The Donkey Cabbage sounds interesting!

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20 Cindy B November 2, 2013 at 12:34 am

I’d love to check out the fairy tales I haven’t heard of before now!

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21 Buddy Garrett November 2, 2013 at 1:14 am

I am interested in checking out Hansel and Gretel.

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22 Gianna November 2, 2013 at 1:45 am

Hansel and Gretel.

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23 Sarah L November 2, 2013 at 3:57 am

The Donkey Cabbage – never heard of this one.
Thanks for the contest.

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24 debbie November 2, 2013 at 7:37 am

the donkey cabbage sounds good.

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25 tina reynolds November 3, 2013 at 6:29 am

The singing bong

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26 Kim Henrichs November 3, 2013 at 8:13 am

Little Red Riding Hood!

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27 Aaron Humphrey November 3, 2013 at 12:54 pm

hansel and gretel

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28 cyndi br November 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm

hansel and gretel

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29 augrim November 3, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Hansel y Gretel.

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30 Kris T. November 3, 2013 at 6:33 pm

I’m excited to check out all of the tales re-created by Pullman. He’s a master.

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31 Shannon November 3, 2013 at 9:52 pm

I’m interested in the ones you’ve mentioned that I’ve never heard of!

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32 Ava Chavez November 3, 2013 at 11:35 pm

The Singing Bone & Rapunzel.

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33 g. penrod November 4, 2013 at 6:32 am

snow white was always one of my fav.s

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34 Vicki Wurgler November 5, 2013 at 12:17 pm

The Brave Little Tailor

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35 ron frampton November 5, 2013 at 2:51 pm

snow white is my favorite one

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36 Serena Powell November 5, 2013 at 7:33 pm

I always like Hansel and Gretel

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37 Cynthia R November 5, 2013 at 9:52 pm

i don’t know why but i’ve always loved the story of rapanzel

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38 Heather B November 6, 2013 at 9:21 am

I have always liked Hansel and Gretel

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39 Carey Miller November 7, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I love fairy tales, so it would be difficult to pick one. But I guess Rumplestiltskin has always tickled my fancy.

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40 Meagan November 7, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I have always loved Hansel & Gretel, Rapunzel & Cinderella. This would be an awesome thing to give to my future children. :)

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41 Michelle H November 7, 2013 at 5:13 pm

The classic Rapunzel.

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42 Kayleigh D November 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm

I’m interested in all of the titles mentioned, to be honest. Though I guess I would flip to the Donkey Cabbage just because of how odd and different it sounds.

Reading a fairy tale you’ve never read before lets you experience a little more magic than re-reading one from long ago. At least, that’s what I think. I love Pullman’s work and the Brothers’ Grimm renditions of fairy tales have also been a very interesting topic to me.

I recently got a collection of fantasy short stories, many of them with a fairy tale vibe, called ‘unnatural Creatures’ – a variety of authors picked out by Mr. Neil Gaiman. If anyone’s out for other fantastic stories, I’d suggest picking that up. I myself am almost through with it and this would be a nice one to follow up with.

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43 Felicia November 7, 2013 at 11:50 pm

Cinderella for sure, thank you

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44 tina page November 8, 2013 at 11:01 am

the donkey cabbage! what a brilliant name!

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45 Beth Klocinski November 8, 2013 at 11:15 am

I am interested in Hansel and Gretel. We will be going to Germany next year so this would be a great story to refamiliarize myself with.

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46 Ben G November 8, 2013 at 11:16 am

I would like to check out “The Singing Bone.”

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47 CHRISTY SWEENEY November 8, 2013 at 12:59 pm

JACK AND THE BEANSTALK

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48 Paula Tavernie November 8, 2013 at 1:46 pm

Hansel and Gretel!

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49 Angela Ash November 8, 2013 at 3:39 pm

I’m definitely interested in checking out all of the classics I am familiar with, especially Hansel and Gretel. The others are probably just as good.

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50 Ed Nemmers November 8, 2013 at 3:57 pm

“The Three Snake Leaves” intrigues me!

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51 Amber Carter November 8, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I would like to check out The Singing Bone

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52 Mozi Esmes mom November 8, 2013 at 5:24 pm

The Donkey Cabbage sounds interesting…

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53 jules m. November 8, 2013 at 5:49 pm

“The Girl with No Hands”

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54 Michelle Tucker November 8, 2013 at 5:53 pm

I’m thinking Hansel and Gretel.

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55 Kimberly Hilbert November 8, 2013 at 6:18 pm

I hope Beauty and the Beast is in this collection. It’s one of my favorites.

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56 Cálaeb Temple November 8, 2013 at 6:46 pm

i am interested in The Singing Bone.

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57 Susan B November 8, 2013 at 7:27 pm

I love Rapunzel!!

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58 Kayci Stanley November 8, 2013 at 8:38 pm

I think “The Three Snake Leaves” sounds interesting.

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59 Tricha November 8, 2013 at 9:20 pm

Cinderella would be my choice

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60 Arnold E Carroway II November 8, 2013 at 9:39 pm

The Singing Bone is the one I want to check out.

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61 Candice Hull November 8, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Not sure what it says about me, but I’ve always been a fan of Hansel and Gretel.
Thanks

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62 Donna Kellogg November 8, 2013 at 11:47 pm

Hansel and Gretel

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63 Carolyn Daley November 8, 2013 at 11:50 pm

I am excited for Hansel and Gretel.

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64 Mihaela Day November 9, 2013 at 1:06 am

I love the Cinderella.

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65 Justin S. November 9, 2013 at 1:15 am

Another vote for Hansel & Gretel

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66 Sarah L November 9, 2013 at 1:59 am

If you pick me, just go ahead and pick someone else.
Got the book at the library. Enjoyed it, but don’t need my own copy.
Thanks.

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67 melina r November 9, 2013 at 6:38 am

I am interested in Hansel and Gretel!

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68 Barbara S November 9, 2013 at 7:44 am

I am looking forward to reading the new fairy tales since I know the old ones!

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69 Jennifer Reed November 9, 2013 at 10:03 am

I think the Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version would be great. I would love to read some of the new stories like “The Fisherman and his Wife”.

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70 kathy pease November 9, 2013 at 10:15 am

I always liked Little Red Riding Hood

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71 brittany davenport November 9, 2013 at 10:37 am

love the brothers grimm! would be a great win!

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72 Pam Schad November 9, 2013 at 11:05 am

For my grandkids-Rapunzel.

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73 Shari Klyn November 9, 2013 at 11:37 am

I would love to see what he has done with Hansel and Gretel.

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74 Amy M November 9, 2013 at 12:15 pm

I read a collection of the original Grimm tales in a pretty bare-bones translation not too long ago, so I’m super interested in this one. The Match Girl has always struck me… no pun… as a super-creepy story, so I hope it’s in here!

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75 Christian Alejandro November 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Hansel and Gretel

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76 chickie brewer November 9, 2013 at 12:45 pm

I’ve likes Hansel AND GRETEL

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77 angela cisco November 9, 2013 at 1:54 pm

I’d like to read the Hansel & Gretel story

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78 heather c November 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Rapunzel, I think.

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79 KATY RHODES November 9, 2013 at 2:48 pm

THE ONES I HAVE NOT HEARD OF YET.

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80 linda lightner November 9, 2013 at 3:12 pm

Well i will give to some child at church. Thre princess fairy dales like rapunzel and snow white but my 46 yr old son love this movie so id give to him.

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81 susan smoaks November 9, 2013 at 5:03 pm

i would love to check out rapunzel and hansel and gretel

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82 Charlene Kuser November 9, 2013 at 5:42 pm

I would love to check out Hansel and Gretel.It has always been a favorite of mine

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