‘The Snow Queen’ by Hans Christian Andersen (Review)

IMG_5441It’s been a while, but today sees the return of my trusty assistant (who has been otherwise occupied with school, her iPad and piles of other books which my wife reserves on the library database on a daily basis).  Emily’s here to talk about another of Pushkin Children’s Books’ beautiful offerings – even if it’s not one she really loved.  Let’s see what went wrong today 😦

What’s the name of the book, and who is it by?
The book is called The Snow Queen, and it’s by Hans Christian Andersen (and it’s translated by Misha Hoekstra).

What’s it about?
It’s about a boy and a girl who are best friends.  Then, one of them gets glass in their eye from a magic mirror, and the Snow Queen takes him away!  After that, the girl has to go and save her friend without her shoes (because she dropped them in the lake… long story!).

Did you like it?  Why (not)?
No.  It was a bit scary for me because they talked about knives and stuff.  And there was glass in the eye which made me feel uncomfortable 😦

What was your favourite part?
My favourite part was when the girl freed the boy, and they went back home and lived happily ever after!

Was it difficult to read?
No, I just didn’t like it much.

Would you recommend this book to other boys and girls?  Why (not)?
I would recommend it to boys and girls that think of themselves as grown-ups 😦

Emily, thank you very much.

With Frozen fever still running hot in my house, I had high hopes for The Snow Queen, but unfortunately what may have been tame in 1844 is still a little too creepy for my sensitive 21st-century reader.  While there isn’t much that is overly scary or gruesome (unlike some of Grimm’s grimmer tales…), the general tone is somewhat sinister.  I doubt many kids would be that bothered, to be honest, but Emily is not one of those kids 😦

Still, for those who do enjoy their stories a tad less sacharine, The Snow Queen is an intriguing read.  It’s not a book I tried during my own childhood, so I was interested enough to flick through and find out what it was all about, and in fact the opening section, describing the Devil’s mirror and its shattering into pieces was oddly familiar (I have the feeling it might have been used in a song at some point – if anyone can help me out…).  Poor Kai, a cheerful boy, is the one who suffers here:

It was one of those splinters of glass from the shattered mirror, the Devil’s mirror.  You remember – the terrible mirror that turned anything great and good into something puny and ugly – the glass that made anything plain or evil look bigger, that made every blemish or mistake stick out.  And a splinter had gone right into his heart too.  Soon it would become just like a lump of ice.  The splinter no longer hurt – but it was there all the same.
p.20 (Pushkin Children’s Books, 2015)

Hmm, that is pretty creepy – perhaps Emily was right after all 😉

Once again, Pushkin have assembled an excellent team for the job.  Some of you may remember Hoekstra from his translation of Dorthe Nors’ Minna Needs Rehearsal Space, and illustrator Lucie Arnoux also worked on In Their Shoes, another of Pushkin’s fairytale volumes.  Throw in a large, clear font and a beautiful cover design, and you’ve got a book worthy of any beginner’s library.

My little princess may not have loved this, but if the younger residents of your castle enjoy fairytales (or movies with princesses who sing far too much), then you should definitely give The Snow Queen a try.  Here’s hoping that Miss Emily picks this up again in a few months or so, hopefully with a better result.  Until then, I suppose I’ll just have to let it go…


4 thoughts on “‘The Snow Queen’ by Hans Christian Andersen (Review)

  1. Lovely review Emily – I love how you are so honest about this book and your reaction to it. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Tony, earlier this year I read all of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales and stories in a complete Dutch translation. I was very impressed. About eight years ago I read a new translation of Andersen’s fairy tales in English by Tiina Nunnally in Penguins classics. That was a wonderful read in beautiful English. Even though Emily didn’t like “The snow queen” she will undoubtly like much of the other tales like “The princess on the pea”, “The little mermaid”, “The emperor’s new clothes”, “The ugly duckling”, “The little match girl” and many others. I highly recommend you and Emily trying this translation. Greetings, Erik


    1. Erik – Yes, hopefully she’ll enjoy some of the other tales more – in fact, Pushkin are also bringing a new edition of ‘The Swan Princess’ out later this year, so fingers crossed…


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