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August 29, 2006 9:27 PM   Subscribe

The neighbor girl borrowed my fairy tale book fifteen years ago. Help me get it back.

Things seem larger when you're little. I remember it as a huge, hardcover book, perhaps 250 full-color pages. Each story was illustrated by a different artist, and its creative eclecticism had much to do with my desire to be an artist and a writer.

The dust jacket, I believe, was tan in color, and had an illustration from a story in which a bear in a trench coat? and his animal acquaintances thought the fragmented moon had fallen in the lake. Only a reflection, of course.

Other stories I remember: A spin on the Monkey's Paw, in which a cartoonish couple received three wishes, the second resulting in a sausage dangling from Hubby's nose. A version of Anderson's Wild Swans, a girl weaving sweaters of nettles for her brothers, realistic illustrations. A Chinese tale, involving a boy in a palace, a giant goblin rat, painted cat-guards and the mysterious maxim, "Avoid large places. Keep to small."

Ring a bell? Anyone? I've searched Amazon and Alibris over the years, but the term "Fairy Tales" is a bit broad. Thanks!
posted by changeling to Media & Arts (8 answers total)

So, probably this anthology.
posted by tellurian at 9:49 PM on August 29, 2006

Could it be:

More about illustrations.
posted by bim at 10:42 PM on August 29, 2006

The first thing that came to mind was one of the My Book House series, which was in print from 1920 to at least the early 1970s (the '70s editions are a pale shadow of the earlier ones, though -- avoid them if possible). The cover art doesn't match your recollection, but perhaps there was an edition with different art. (I have the 1920s version, which is conveniently in the public domain.) The volume I have here, Through Fairy Halls, contains at least two of the stories you mentioned, "The Three Wishes" and "The Six Swans". The later editions had some changes in story selection (and illustrations) so it might be that one of those is exactly the version you are looking for.

I grew up with the late 1930s edition, the entire set (it was a hand me down from my mom's family), and when you say "Each story was illustrated by a different artist, and its creative eclecticism had much to do with my desire to be an artist and a writer" I know exactly what you mean. The lovely illustrations (in the older editions -- the newer stories in the later editions had ugly illustrations. Why is it that early 20th century children's books were so darned gorgeous in comparison to what came later?) had a lasting effect on my imagination, and the books familiarized me with Shakespeare, classical myths, folktales and poetry from many cultures, and so much more. So if this isn't exactly the book you are looking for, it's certainly similar.

Here's a page from "The Six Swans" -- does it ring a bell?

posted by litlnemo at 4:00 AM on August 30, 2006

Also, you might scroll down this wonderful list of anthologies and see if anything rings a bell.
posted by litlnemo at 4:10 AM on August 30, 2006

litlnemo: i read them cover to cover, except for the one that was missing in our collection at home. came across a full set a few weeks ago at a used book sale--they wanted about $60- for them all.
posted by lester at 8:28 AM on August 30, 2006

Thanks guys, but none of these are it, although everything's brushing upon it --- the stories are correct, but the anthologies aren't. It was a big thick full-color thing, probably published (and illustrated) in the eighties, much of the illustrations closer to King Bidgood and Animalia . One way or another, now I'm craving fairy tales. Thing I'll curl up with my massive, bloodthirsty Complete Grimm tonight.
posted by changeling at 8:57 AM on August 30, 2006

Final update from the OP:
It was My Big Book of Fairy Tales by Marshall Cavendish, published in 1987 and rereleased in 1989. There's a MetaTalk thread with some more details.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:24 PM on March 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

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