My, What Big Strong Books You Have!

Classic Stories Stands TallRumpelstiltskin & Jack the Giant Killer

Edward Gorey was a very busy body in 1972 and 1973. He published fourteen new works – nine are considered primary works, including The Awdrey-Gore Legacy, and five secondary works, all containing several pages of artwork. This Summer, PomegranateKids, an imprint of Pomegranate Communications, reintroduces three titles from this time period, bundled together into one. Titled Three Classic Children’s Stories, this hardcover volume contains Little Red Riding Hood (1972), Jack the Giant Killer (1973) and Rumpelstiltskin (1973). This isn’t a simple re-issue, it contains changes that will interest both new and seasoned Gorey readers. For a start, all three stories are rewritten, retold by James Donnelly. For another, the illustrations wear new colors.

Actually, the re-coloring of Rumpelstiltskin is more a resurrection. The dust jacket artwork for the original 1973 Rumplestiltskin was finished in watercolor, while the story’s illustrations remained black and a marigold-yellow. This time, Pomegranate’s artists gave Rumplestiltskin a makeover, guided by Gorey’s palette from the original jacket art. It’s very well done. Jack the Giant Killer on the other hand, is practically a new work. The original’s black and tangerine palette makes Jack’s costume change welcome. Red Riding Hood’s red cloak is still as red as red can be, with only the subtlest addition of new tints. All in all, the artwork throughout is nicely uplifted by the changes. At the same time, while the old original two-color press runs were done mostly out of cost considerations, you could argue the old illustrations were intentionally minimalist, or maybe convey an unintentionally comic touch. But again, the new colorizing effort is engaging, and follows Gorey’s esthetic.

James Donnelly merrily undertakes the retelling of these classic stories, after writing for Pomegranate on projects with the British Museum, Oxford University Press USA, and the National Gallery of Art. Donnelly writes actively, directly to the reader. At times a little fresh, with unexpected nods to Gorey’s influence placed here and there. The original Red Riding Hood was written by Schenk de Regniers, Jack the Giant Killer by an anonymous writer, and were both presented in verse. The original Rumplestiltskin was written by Edith Tarcov, voiced in a teacher-ly, fairytale-manner. They were all very charming collaborations. This time, all three stories follow a more modern narrative, Donnelly’s storytelling bringing these old tales to the present. I enjoyed jumping between old and new versions of all three stories, for they’re all completely different creatures, with different affects. Three Classic Children’s Stories is a real treat, and worth a place in the kids’ library, classroom and Gorey collection. It’s new, elegant and refreshing – a great way to bring some of Gorey’s lesser-known collaborations to the fore.

Three Classic Children's Stories
112 pages with 85 color drawings
Size: 6 x 8"
Hardcover smyth-sewn casebound book, with jacket
Published by PomegranateKids®, an imprint of Pomegranate Communications
ISBN 978-0-7649-5546-4
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Also available from Pomegranate this season:

The Utter Zoo
56 pages with 26 black-and-white drawings
Size: 6 1/2 x 6"
Hardcover smyth-sewn casebound book, with newly-colored jacket
ISBN 978-0-7649-5508-2
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The Awdrey-Gore Legacy
64 pages with more than 50 color and black-and-white Gorey drawings
Size: 8 1/2 x 6"
Hardcover smyth-sewn casebound book, with jacket
ISBN 978-0-7649-5509-9
More information from Pomegranate and