‘In Their Shoes: Fairy Tales and Folktales’ (Review)

IMG_5324It’s been a while, but my little assistant Emily has finally found some time to talk about another of her books.  Once again, it’s from the Pushkin Children’s Books collection, and it’s a very pretty book with a range of stories, some familiar, some a little less so.  But what did my reviewer-in-training think of it?  Let’s find out 🙂

What’s the name of the book, and who is it by?
The book is called In Their Shoes and it’s by lots of writers and translators!***

What’s it about?
It’s got lots of different fairy tales, and they’re all about SHOES!

Did you like it?  Why (not)?
No.  It was very violent – there was a lot about killing and stuff 😦

What was your favourite story?
Pierre Gripari’s The Pair of Shoes.  This story was about two shoes that loved each other so much they didn’t even like being worn on feet.  They tied themselves together with their shoelaces and kept on making the lady trip over!

Was it difficult to read?
No, just some names.

Would you recommend this book to other boys and girls?  Why (not)?
I would recommend this book to very, very, very, very, very grown-up eight-year-olds!

Emily, thank you very much.

Oh, dear – I actually thought this would be a book Emily would love, but I was very, very, very, very, very wrong 😉  Sadly, my delicate little reader, while partial to fairy tales, is not a fan of the more realistic Grimm variety, and it was a struggle to even get her to do her part of the review.  Mind you, having read some of the original German tales a while back, I can sympathise a little…

Anyway, the collection itself is a nice idea, nine stories from around the world, each linked by the idea of footwear.  In addition to a few of the usual suspects (‘Puss in Boots’, ‘Hop o’ my Thumb’, ‘The Twelve Dancing Princesses’, ‘The Red Shoes’), there were some less well-known tales.  From Russia comes ‘The Story of Chernushka’, and there’s also an Asian contribution in the shape of ‘The Story of Yexian’, a Chinese Cinderella story.  Add a story about Perseus and a Brer Rabbit piece, and you have a great little collection of tales.

While the stories aren’t really all that violent, they’re not always as whitewashed as you might expect.  A good example of this is from ‘Hop o’ my Thumb’:

“Then he went to his daughters’ bed, where he could feel the caps belonging to the little boys.  “Aha! there they are,” he said, “the fine fellows!  let’s get to work.”  And with these words, he set to without hesitation and cut the throats of all his seven daughters.  And very pleased with himself for having settled the matter so quickly, he went back to bed beside his wife.”
‘Hop o’ my Thumb’, p.45 (Pushkin Children’s Books, 2015)

It’s little surprise that poor Emily wasn’t a huge fan 😦

Still, that’s what fairy tales are (or used to be) all about, and overall In Their Shoes is a lovely little book, with an attractive cover and great black-and-white illustrations by Lucie Arnoux.  Before you order it for your little one, though, you might just want to ask yourself if they’re the kind of reader that enjoys scary stories.  Otherwise, they might just react like my little helper did…

*** Named translators in this collection are: Carrie E.Reed, Christopher Betts, Julia Nicholson, Mika Provata and Sophie Lewis 🙂

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