Sunday, February 17, 2019

Classics Illustrated: Snow White (The Classic Edition) by the Brothers Grimm; illustrated by Charles Santore

"Oh, if I only had a child as white as snow, as red as this blood, as black as this window frame!"

A young queen seated before a snowy window pricks her finger with her embroidery needle and makes a wish for her unborn child, little knowing that the beauty she wishes for her will be a sort of curse to her young daughter. The young queen mother dies soon after the birth of her lovely daughter, and when the King remarries, he chooses a handsome but fatally envious woman who fears the child's beauty will eclipse her own, and eventually
arranges for the murder of the child called Snow White.

So begins the Grimm Brothers' timeless tale of beauty, jealousy, and murderous hate, in which in the end evil is offset by the power of kindness, virtue, and love.

A medieval story, full of a scheming stepmother who arranges the death of her only rival, her beautiful stepdaughter, Snow White, this tale of malevolent envy represented by the evil queen, and innocent goodness, symbolized in Snow White's loveliness, the empathy of the huntsman, and the dwarfs' loyalty, is retold in traditional language and the stunning illustrations of noted artist Charles Santore in his forthcoming Snow White (Applesauce/Cider Mill Press, 2019). With great attention to the dress, trappings, and traditional symbolism of medieval palace and cottage life, the artist has indeed created a "classic edition," one which belongs with the likes of Nancy Ekholm Berkert's softly stylized and more diaphanous illustrations in her Caldecott-winning Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs: A Tale from the Brothers Grimm (Sunburst Book). In this edition Santore's illustrations have the all-too-human but luminous look of an illuminated manuscript in the evergreen story of good and evil in which virtue cannot die, but merely awaits its rebirth. A first purchase for libraries and a memorable gift for serious fans of the Brothers Grimm.

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