The Flying Trunk and other stories from Andersen
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The royalties from this book go to charity and each of thirteen artists have chosen a Hans Andersen story, in a new version by Naomi Lewis, to illustrate for this collection. Some are familiar, such as 'The Princess and the Pea' or 'The Emperor's New Clothes'. Some are unusual, 'The Jumping Competition' or 'The Top and the Ball'. One or two of my favourites are missing; where is 'The Little Mermaid'?; but it is a good selection, clearly told in slightly less elaborate langua than I was brought up on and with some attractive illustrations by very well-known artists such as Michael Foreman and Tony Ross. The only reservations I have about what is on the whole a lively and attractive book is that the variety of artists means that it has no style of its own and seems, therefore, rather bitty and I do wonder if some of the artists' styles are well matched to Hans Andersen. Tomie de Paola's flat and childlike style seems to take the weirdness out of 'The Tinder Box' and Philippe Dupasquier's prisoner in 'From the Ramparts of the Citadel' lacks any touch of torment or evil and the citadel, far from being bleak and cheerless, is positively Toy Town-ish. This would make an attractive introduction to Andersen for today's children . . . even if, as always, some of the tales are really not very childlike at all.