Celtic Tales: Fairy Tales and Stories of Enchantment by Kate Forrester

Rating: 4.5 of 5

Synopsis: “The traditional stories of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, and Wales transport us to the fantastical world of Celtic folklore. Translated and transcribed by folklorists in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the 16 stories in this compilation conjure forgotten realms and rare magical creatures in vivid prose. These timeless tales brim with wit and magic, and each one is brought to life with elegant silhouette art by Kate Forrester in this special illustrated edition.” (source)

My thoughts: The perfect gift for anyone who loves folklore and fairy tales!

Celtic Tales collects and “lightly” adapts 16 stories from four works* published in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The tales are organized into Tricksters, The Sea, Quests, and Romance.

Selkies, wyverns, witches, and giants.
Perilous quests, true love, and animals that talk.

Bold, vibrant illustrations introduce each story. (Have a look at a small sample on the illustrator’s website.) Nearly all of the stories were unfamiliar to me, but I’m relatively new to reading Celtic folklore. My favorite was “The Black Bull of Norroway,” which reminded me of an episode of The Storyteller.

Beautiful hardcover edition! I kept running my hand over the cover, feeling the raised knots, then the title — gorgeous.

Official website | Illustrator’s website | Add on LibraryThing | Add on Goodreads

(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)

Received hardcover from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

*The Scottish Fairy Book, Wonder Tales of Ancient Wales, Folk Tales of Brittany, and Fairy and Folk Tales of the Irish Peasantry.

The Golden Key: A Victorian Fairy Tale by George MacDonald

Rating: 4 of 5

Synopsis: “When young Mossy hears the legend that anyone who manages to find the end of a rainbow will be rewarded with a golden key, he becomes determined to do exactly that. But finding the golden key is the easy part — discovering what it unlocks is a much harder task. Together with a runaway girl named Tangle, the two set out to find the key’s purpose — and discover their own along the way.

George MacDonald’s beloved fairytale is brought to life by Ruth Sanderson’s sumptuous illustrations, making this a perfect gift for readers of all ages.” (source)

My thoughts: I first heard about this book by reading “Unlocking Wonder in ‘The Golden Key’” by Ruth Sanderson. So, I admit, the biggest reason I requested a copy was Ruth’s fairy tale illustrations, which, I’m happy to report, were breathtaking. Scratchboard art blows my mind; being a non-artist, I just can’t wrap my brain around how artists like Ruth create such beauty by scratching away at solid black to reveal bit by bit a complete picture. The proportions, the balance, the fine details…beautiful!

As for George MacDonald’s fairy tale, which I read in one sitting, I found it easily adaptable to the reader’s interpretation and I like stories where I’m given leeway to apply my own meaning. But I can certainly see where this tale could be presented as a Christian fairy tale for those so inclined. I found Ruth’s art the perfect complement to the tale, and MacDonald’s Fairyland was how I always imagine it: full of creatures both light and dark.

5 stars for the fairy tale illustrations; 3 stars for the fairy tale itself.

Check out this gallery for a sneak peek of Ruth Sanderson’s fairy-tale art in “The Golden Key.”

Author’s website | Illustrator’s website | Add on LibraryThing | Add on Goodreads
Buy direct from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers

(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)

Received ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Golden Dreams: The Art of Ruth Sanderson

Rating: 5 of 5

Golden Dreams the Art of Ruth SandersonTHE best Christmas present of 2015! Highly recommended to any collector of fairy-tale illustrations and/or fan of Ruth Sanderson’s work. Filled to bursting with hundreds of full-color illustrations as well as sketches, reference photos, and stories of inspiration. Ruth’s illustrations are vibrant, enchanting, beautiful — and yet, none of those words truly captures the way her art affects me.

My first experience with Ruth’s work was The Store-Bought Doll, a book I loved the moment I first read it over 30 years ago, and one I still love and treasure. I gifted my then 15-year-old copy (which was already pretty well-loved) to my little girl, and I hope someday she’ll do the same with her children.

Author’s website | Buy online direct from Ruth | from Amazon

(Review cross-posted on LibraryThing and Goodreads.)

I cannot wait to get my hands on MacDonald’s The Golden Key, newly illustrated by Ruth Sanderson, to be released in Fall 2016 from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers. Pre-order your copy today.