TheEmperor's New Clothes
By Hans Christian Andersen
Translated by Naomi Lewis
Illustrated by Angela Barrett
Ages 6 to 9
By Howard Pyle
Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman
Morrow, unpaged, $16
Animalia: Anniversary Edition
Written and illustrated By Graeme Base
All About Alfie
Written and illustrated By Shirley Hughes
128 pp., $18
Ages 2 and up
George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends
Written and illustrated By James Marshall
340 pp., $25
The Gift of The Magi and Other Stories
By O. Henry
205 pp., $22
Redwall: Anniversary Edition
By Brian Jacques
Illustrated by Troy Howell
Philomel, 351 pp., $22.95
Ages 8 and up
The Annotated Anne of Green Gables
By L.M. Montgomery
Edited by Wendy E. Barry, Margaret Anne Doody, and Mary E. Doody Jones
Oxford University Press
496 pp., $35
Stephen Biesty's Incredible Everything
By Richard Platt
32 pp., $19.95
Guinness Record Breakers
By Karen Romano Young
64 pp., $17.95
'It's always been one of my favorites!" That line, spoken to a bright-eyed child unwrapping a book, practically guarantees a successful gift. And what better thing to give than a book you already know and love? This season, publishers have made it easier than ever to give old favorites. There are collections, treasuries, and anniversary editions galore. Here is a sampling of some old literary friends with new looks.
Most school-age children know Hans Christian Andersen's story The Emperor's New Clothes, so why do we need Naomi Lewis's new translation? Because it's simply wonderful! Lewis translates the story from its original Danish, crafting a smooth, well-paced book. Illustrator Angela Barrett adds exquisite watercolors and graceful, winsome touches on every page.
Here the emperor is a pre-World-War-I ruler, so all sorts of fashion details are available to the interested and observant reader: fancy dressing gowns, golden bedroom slippers, and very elegant, though foppish, dogs. Although not written until 1837, this story has been a staple in children's lore for close to two centuries. Andersen's genius created a tale that speaks across countries and generations, and Lewis and Barrett have honored that tale in this seamless version.
Howard Pyle penned Bearskin, an original fairy tale, more than 100 years ago. Famous as a painter and instructor (he trained illustrators N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, and Jessie Willcox Smith), Pyle was also a talented storyteller. In the late 1800s, he published collections of his own tales. "Bearskin" was the first of 24 stories in his 1887 collection, "The Wonder Clock."
Pyle combines familiar elements from many stories in this charmer. Bearskin is abandoned as a baby, floated downriver, then rescued and raised in the woods by a "she-bear." When grown, he ventures into the outside world to slay a three-headed dragon and marry a princess.
This satisfying story, with its happy ending, has stood the test of time. Now, award-winning artist Trina Schart Hyman adds new relevance to the tale by depicting multicultural characters in her lively, colorful, detailed illustrations.
Animalia, an alphabet book by Graeme Base, has sold more than 2 million copies. Now, a special 10th-anniversary edition has been released. The clever art and alphabet text of the original hasn't changed, but this limited collector's edition has a gold-embossed dust jacket and is numbered.
Colorful pages, jammed with art, invite readers to pore over the illustrations. For example, on the double-page spread for "C," there are crimson cats, a camera, a collar, a chimp in a Chevy, a castle, a cow and much, much more. But be careful, only adults with great restraint should give this book since parents have been known monopolize looking at the illustrations.
Short Story Collections
In the 1980s, English author and illustrator Shirley Hughes introduced a lovable tyke to the literary world. Cherub-cheeked Alfie is the consummate preschooler. He is alternately timid and brave, cautious and independent, confused and determined. All About Alfie is a collection of four previously published picture books about Alfie, his family, and friends.
In "Alfie Gets in First," he accidentally locks himself in the house - and his Mom and baby sister out - after a trip to the grocery store. Hughes cleverly uses the page's gutter to symbolize the front door and to separate the action on either side of it. Each story in this treasury ends with a small triumph and overflows with comfort, security, and affection.
Twenty-five years ago, author and illustrator James Marshall began producing his popular "George and Martha" books. Now, all seven stories are gathered under one cover in George And Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends. These two hippos play together, play tricks on each other, get mad at and forgive each other.
But it is as friends that they endear themselves to readers. Marshall's kindness and sensitivity shine through the text, and his humor is unmistakable in deceptively simple illustrations.
Most highschool students have read the classic short story "The Gift of the Magi," and are familiar with its American author, William Sydney Porter - better known as O. Henry. He was a talented and prolific turn-of-the-century writer. A new collection gives easy access to this and other O. Henry works.
The Gift of the Magi and Other Stories pulls together 15 tales, each culminating with one of O. Henry's trademark surprise endings. He writes of Western outlaws, city-dwelling criminals, wage-earning men and women, and, of course, young lovers.
In the tradition of old-time story books, Michael Dooling enhances this collection with one dramatic, full-color illustration per story.
The author's advanced vocabulary and unique literary style may be challenging to some young readers, but for those willing to make the effort, reading O. Henry is a rewarding experience.
A decade ago, English author Brian Jacques invited adventuring readers into the enchanted, action-packed world of "Redwall." Jacques has continued to spin out his riveting tales at the rate of one a year. Nine books later, the series is hale and hearty.
For a 10th-year celebration, Redwall: Anniversary Edition has been published with new, full-color illustrations by Troy Howell.
The original story is as exciting now as when it was first conceived.
Gentle woodland creatures are forced to defend their beloved Redwall Abby from Cluny the Scourge, a terrible, one-eyed rat, and his marauding hordes. The eventual hero is a bumbling apprentice named Matthias who is convinced that the ancient sword of Martin the Warrior will help save the Abby.
First published in 1908, Lucy Maud Montgomery's "Anne of Green Gables" has never been out of print. My local bookstore shows at least 40 versions available, yet The Annotated Anne Of Green Gables will be welcomed by scholars and fans.
The story of this spirited, red-headed orphan girl who brings life to her Avonlea guardians, friends, and neighbors is as captivating as ever. Using photographs, journal entries, and other sources, the editors document parallels between the fictional Anne and Montgomery herself. Both were born and raised on Canada's Prince Edward Island, lived with strict elderly couples, appreciated literature, pursued higher education, and obtained teaching positions.
Almost one quarter of this huge volume is dedicated to appendixes that cover the geography and history of Prince Edward Island, turn-of-the-century crafts and recipes, texts of recitations and poems referred to in "Anne," as well as an extensive bibliography.
Stephen Biesty's Incredible Everything is fascinating and offers something for almost everyone. Illustrator Biesty and engineer-turned-graphic-artist-turned-author Richard Platt take complex processes for making just about "everything" and simplify them into clear diagrams and brief, understandable text.
Readers can view inner workings of rockets, race cars, and nuclear power plants. Particularly engaging are the explanations of everyday items: soap, match sticks, doughnuts, and even (my favorite) diamond rings!
The Biesty-Platt team has received widespread recognition for its other books, and this one is sure to follow suit. It's an eye-popping wonder that encourages concentration and careful viewing.
Guinness Record Breakers by Karen Romano Young is a new book based on an old idea - a dazzling kids' version of the "Guinness Book of World Records."
Every page is loaded with bright, color photos and bite-size paragraphs about records and record breakers. One caveat though, not all the photos are of the actual record breakers, some are merely illustrations. This is a fun, fact-filled book that's bound to generate more than a few "wows".
* Karen Williams Carden regulary reviews children's books for the Monitor.