Publisher: Toon Graphics
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Creator: Ben Nadler
Format: 64 pages color, hardcover, 8” x 10.2”
Age Rating: not listed by publisher
ICv2 Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5
This is a somewhat weird retelling of one of the Brothers Grimm tales. There are many such retellings in existence, and many of them follow the same path this one does, which is to remove or revise “objectionable” parts of the story, based on modern standards. In this case, it’s not that bad, because the changes make the characters more interesting and more believable. Oddly, one character only survives the story because of the revisions, as well.
The weird part that interferes a bit with the storytelling is that Nadler tries a little too hard to make the artwork distinctive and eye-catching. This includes somewhat psychedelic art, when characters eat from a magical piece of fruit, but also things going on in the background of the story. For instance, the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff is happening in the background, outside one window of a castle, for no apparent reason. Also, the main “hero” of the story and the beautiful and wise princess look way too young to be ruling a kingdom at the end of the story.
The writing of the revised story is excellent, though, and makes the story worth reading. There is magic that allows characters to understand animals, and the things they say are a real treat. Also, Nadler corrects a zoological error that was in the original story, and this is explained in the notes in the back of the book.
This is not a perfect fairy tale retelling, but kids in grades 3+ will probably enjoy it.
--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.