Review 119. Philip Pullman – Fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm.

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English VersionTitle: Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A new English version.
Author: Philip Pullman.
Pages: 405.
Published: November 8th 2012 (first published September 27th 2012)
Publisher: Viking Adult.
Sort: Stand alone.
Two hundred years ago, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first volume of Children’s and Household Tales. Now, at a veritable fairy-tale moment—witness the popular television shows Grimm and Once Upon a Time and this year’s two movie adaptations of “Snow White”—Philip Pullman, one of the most popular authors of our time, makes us fall in love all over again with the immortal tales of the Brothers Grimm.
4 stars
This book is a dream for every fairytale lover. Pullman took fifty of his favorites stories from the Brothers Grimm and he bundled them into this book. The only reason why I gave it 4 flowers instead of 5 is the fact that I expected more input from Pullman. We get a lot of extra information and background story at the end of each story and I loved that, but the fairytales are still the same. He didn’t retell them, although he made some adjustments.

One of the things I loved was the fact that I discovered some new stories and I met some old favorites. I always hope that there are authors out there, using these less familiar fairytales. Let me give you an examples, I will tell you my short version:

-The three little men in the wood. There are two sisters. One if beautiful and kind, the other is ugly and mean. Their mother hates the first sister, her stepdaughter. One day, she dresses the girl in paper and sent her out in the snow to search for strawberries. The girl meets three little men. She shares her old, hard bread with them and they ask her to help them; when she does, they see the goodness in her heart and they reward her with gifts. Every day, the girl will get prettier and whenever she speaks, gold coins will tumble out of her mouth. Their last gift is that one day, she will marry a king. The stepmother is furious and the stepsister is envious; she wants the same fortune. With warm clothing, the girl walks the same path and meets the three little men. She refuses to share her good food and she doesn’t want to help them. They punish her: every day, she will get uglier and whenever she speaks, toads will fall out of her mouth. Their last punishment is that she will die a miserable death. I think you can see where this story is going to.

Some other stories are One-eye, two-eyes and three-eyes, where two-eyes gets bullied by her sisters and mother because she is so normal. I used to re-read that story often when I was younger. The singing, springing lark sounds like Beauty and the Beast, but this time the enchanted prince is a lion and he takes his human shape in the night.

There are of course the popular and well-known stories like Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, Little red riding hood, Briar Rose, Snow white and Rumpelstiltskin. It surprised me that he didn’t pick The little mermaid.

If you are obsessed with fairytales like me, this is the book you want to read! I’m definitely going to buy a copy (don’t you just love this cover?)
So one day when the queen asked her mirror:
‘Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who in this land is the fairest of all?’

The mirror answered:
‘Your majesty, you are still lovely, it’s true,
But Snow White is a thousand times fairer than you.’


  1. My mom loves collecting different versions of the Grimm fairy tales so she got it for Christmas...and then hid it somewhere as I have not seen it. I need to ask her where it is so I can check out which stories Pullman included.

  2. I've been wanting to read this one. I was under the impression they were complete retellings, but I'll be happy either way, and I love getting others insight and learning the historical backgrounds, so this sounds perfect for me!

  3. This has been on my TBR ever since it was released! I like Philip Pullman and I was hoping there would be more of a re-interpreting/re-telling element when I first heard about it, but it still sounds really interesting. I recently finished reading the original Grimm's Fairy Tales and it was fun to see all the lesser-known stuff, including the One-Eye, Two-Eyes, Three-Eyes story you mentioned - that was pretty strange, and the first time I'd heard it!

  4. I work in a bookshop and I just can't stop staring at this beautiful cover! It's pretty expensive, so I still haven't bought it, but I want to!

  5. I know how much you enjoy your fairytales and retellings, so I'm really pleased to hear you enjoyed this! I'm curious to see how Pullman approached it, but I also want to discover some new tales that I hadn't previously been aware of. Great review, Mel!

  6. Nice, I cannot wait to start this book myself!

  7. Love the cover! It's better than the plainer one I've seen in the bookstores here. I love fairytales and The Three Little Men is one of my favourite stories, although I did feel bad for the nasty sister. Grimms tales can be so harsh.

  8. I LOVE FAIRYTALES! It seems like this might be something for me to look into reading. And the one fairytale that you mentioned (the one about the two sisters)-- I remember that one! Have you read Kill Me Softly by Sarah Cross? It has a really fabulous take on that one. And Bluebeard and Snow White and Beauty and the Beast and I'm fangirling and I need to stop now...LOL. Fab review, Mel! (:

    Megan@The Book Babe

  9. I loved the Brother's Grimm when I was a kid. The addition of teh background story and the extra information sounds interesting. Thanks for sharing Mel :)

  10. I really like Philip Pullman. I'm glad to see that he has a new book out. It's the first I heard of it, so I feel a bit like a guilty fan for not knowing about this.

  11. I am not hardcore obsessed with fairy tales, but this sounds good. Glad you liked it.
    Happy reading,
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  12. This is what I should ask for on my birthday. Which isn't for a while, but I'll try to remember.

  13. I haven't heard much about this one but I love fairytales and so will check it out. I really like that we get introduced to some not so common fairytales.

  14. Thank you so much for this fantastic review! I was recently debating wether I should buy this, because I've been absolutely desperate to read it since I first heard about it, but I held off, deciding to try reading it before buying it. I originally thought that the stories were re-written by Pullman, but the description of the book didn't state that, but didn't say otherwise, so thank you for clearing that up! I tried reading a collection of Grimm Fairy Tales a year or so ago but couldn't get through them, even the classics were a struggle- I think I found them a little too dark and depressing... Disney ruined me.

    Excellent review- definitely going to read this one, but I'll wait and see if I buy it.

    Also, interesting fact- Hans Christian Anderson, not one of the stories collected by the Brothers Grimm. I only know this because I have a Puffin Classics collection of his fairytales.

    1. I know that Anderson originally wrote The little mermaid, but the Grimm brothers have a version too :) At least.. according to this site they had:

      but I'm not sure about it actually. It is different from Andersons story though :)

    2. Ooh, that's strange! I looked into it a little more and found another source quoting that same story, but it's not quite the same as the Anderson one... tis a mystery!

  15. This sounds really good. I love fairytale retellings, and you always seem to read so many great ones :) I'll definitely be adding this to my TBR. Awesome review!

  16. Oh my!! I grew up with Grimm tales! I remember as child I had a big book with the tales. I must read this then. I'm not fan of re-telling because some things I want keep safe in my childhood but I think I'll enjoy this one! :)

  17. Just looooove fairy tales so much! This certainly sound like a must-read. Plus I love Philip Pullman! Great review and thanks for sharing!

    Rachel @ Books to Consider

  18. Oh I think this one might be the one I'd enjoy. This doesn't looks Disney at all! WIN! :DThanks for bringing it to my attention.

  19. I bought this when it first came out, but I still haven't gotten around to it yet. Yay for the 4 stars! I love PP, so I'm glad to hear this doesn't disappoint.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  20. Hm, I LOVE Brothers Grimm fairy tales. I already have a complete collection of them so I'm not sure I want to get this, but the extra information and background about the fairytales sounds awesome! Maybe I'll see if they have this at my library. One can never have too many fairytales.

    And I LOVE 'The three little men in the wood' story, although I didn't know that's what it was called. I actually like retellings of that story better though because the others normally turn the story on its head and all is not as straightforward.

    Also, Hans Christian Andersen wrote The Little Mermaid. Even though The Brothers Grimm have a version, I'm guessing it's still considered an Andersen fairy tale.

    Thanks for the review Mel!

  21. I need to get this one now! I absolutely love Philip Pullman, and the stories you talked about sound wonderful! Thanks for sharing this!

  22. Great review :D Glad you liked this book. It does seem pretty awesome :D Might give it a try ;p Thank you for sharing. <3

  23. Curios to read this one :D 4 stars! I want my own copy. Thanks for sharing :D



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