Friday, July 5, 2019

Review - Mary Engelbreit's Nursery Tales

Mary Engelbreit's Nursery Tales
by Mary Engelbreit
Date: 2008
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 128
Format: hardcover
Source: library

Jack and the Beanstalk, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Little Red Hen, and nine other tales are brought to life in this superb treasury. The delightful characters will become storyland friends for life for children who meet them here. Just wait until your child sees the Giant's expression as he cries, "Fee, fi, fo, fum," or the adorable Elves dancing in the Shoemaker's cottage! The Ginger-bread Boy's candy buttons and the dazzling feathers of the Ugly Duckling are among the many inviting details to discover with each new look.

A collection of nursery tales so child friendly, rewarding, and full of fun could only have come from the rich and playful imagination of Mary Engelbreit.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Treasuries of stories are always a nice thing to have in a picture-book collection. It helps if the illustrations are fun to look at, too. That's the case here, as Mary Engelbreit takes on a collection of twelve well-known, classic stories.

The intended audience is obviously quite young, as some of the stories are weirdly sanitized. There are deaths (though they're never shown in the illustrations), but sometimes the villains simply run away, never to be seen again. Certain familiar stories are made less scary by eliminating the element of the abusive parent/stepparent (e.g., in "Hansel and Gretel", the children simply get lost while picking berries in the woods, and eventually return home to their loving mother) or the more graphic details (e.g., in "Little Red Riding Hood", the reader is simply told that the wolf gobbled up granny and the little girl; we don't see them again until the wolf is convinced to let them out of his stomach).

The illustrations are pretty cute, done in Engelbreit's signature style. Hansel and Gretel are adorable with their bare feet and folksy clothes, and I like the fact that Engelbreit chose to diversify the Three Little Pigs a bit by having there be two girls among the siblings (watching the third little pig build her brick house is rather cute; she takes off her sweater first and hangs it over a branch so it won't get dirty while she works).

This is a decent collection of read-aloud stories. Some may seem too simple for older readers. But they're nice and short, and one could easily read a couple before bed. I'd definitely recommend this one to fans of Mary Engelbreit, as well as to those looking for a simple treasury of classic stories that aren't too scary for the youngest readers and listeners.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 3/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 3.5 out of 5

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