by Vicki Palmquist
The Folk Tale Classics Treasury, interpreted and illustrated by Paul Galdone (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2013), is a good place for parents to start with retellings of western European folk tales. The stories included here are important for cultural awareness. Throughout their lives, children will hear references to the Three Little Kittens (“and you shall have no pie”) and Goldilocks and the Three Bears (“that porridge was just right”) so it’s good to introduce them to these stories early.
In his Little Red Hen, wonderful depictions of the cat, dog, mouse, and an alarmed and frustrated hen add insouciance to the story that both children and adults will enjoy. Delicious details in each drawing make it fun to read with someone by your side.
In his version of The Three Little Pigs, the big, bad wolf is wily but Pig No. 3 is even smarter, in a satisfying way that will have you cheering.
The bears in his Goldilocks tale are handsome and smart. We see their tale from the point of view of a family who is wronged by a mischievous little girl with golden locks who is both unthinking and careless. Where are her manners?!
The Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Gingerbread Boy round out the stories included in this volume. These are tales that have been passed down for generations, remembered fondly, but also understood.
Pig No. 3 was cautious and clever, the little Red Hen industrious and just, and the biggest Billy Goat Gruff proves that you should be careful who you challenge.
Paul Galdone was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1907, but after 1928 lived in New York and Vermont where he illustrated more than 300 books. His first illustrated book was Miss Pickerell Goes to Mars in 1951. In the second half of the last century, his work was ubiquitous, and much loved. Reissuing this volume will create a new generation of children who picture these stories with his illustrations. Mr. Galdone died in 1986. You can find more information about him at the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota, where a good representation of his original art and working materials is preserved. You’ll also find a good deal of information on his memorial website.