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by Louisa May Alcott
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From Publishers Weekly
Written for Ralph Waldo Emerson's daughter, Ellen, when Alcott was 16, and first published in 1855, these six prosy fairy tales were chosen from a 1992 collection, Louisa May Alcott's Fairy Tales and Fantasy Stories, edited by Daniel Shealy; Shealy provides an informative afterword here. Readers meet a cast of elves, fairies, brownies and sprites with such Shakespearean names as Willy Wisp, Moonbeam and Thistledown, and the children who occasionally dally with them. Thinly disguised morality lessons told in an over-upholstered style, they instruct the audience in the importance of various virtues. In "The Frost King," for example, elves resolve to conquer the ice-hearted ruler of winter through peaceable means ("Let us teach you how beautiful sunshine and love and happy work can make you"). More than a little dated, the stories grow tedious with lofty homilies (e.g., "little Annie dwelt like a sunbeam in her home, each day growing richer in the love of others and happier in herself"). Preiss's (The Pig's Alphabet) garish artwork further hampers an emotional connection to the stories. The lack of tonal subtlety is aggravated by a self-consciously multicultural-esque grouping of fairy folk with oversize but misshapen eyes and bizarrely pointed ears and chins. Even the typeface, which has distractingly flowery ligatures, is overdone. All but the most die-hard Alcott fans can skip this one. Ages 5-12.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Independent Publisher
Flower Fables is a treasury of six different stories penned by Louisa May Alcott. These old-fashioned fairy tales have been compiled and edited by Daniel Shealy, who has done editing on several Alcott books. The text is very readable, and has magic flavor added via the font's joining together of several letters. Today's children, like many children of the past, will enjoy meeting Alcott's fairies, sentient flowers, and other real and imagined characters. Illustrator Leah Palmer Preiss has filled the book with delightful and interesting fairies and other creatures. The illustrations are bright and full. Readers may want to watch for the bonuses of quotations and tiny portraits of those who influenced Louisa May Alcott. This book would make a good bedtime storybook, and like many tales of old, has good morals that children could take away with them perhaps without even realizing there was a lesson involved. The afterword is also interesting as it shares interesting details about Miss Alcott. For example, she wrote these tales when she was 16. Another bonus at the end of the book is the biographies that go along with the quotations and miniature portraits.
1898. With 34 illustrations. Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women, is universally recognized as the greatest and most popular story teller for children in her generation. She has known the way to the hearts of young people, not only in her own class, or even country, but in every condition of life, and in many foreign lands. Contents: Flower Fables; The Frost King, or the Power of Love; Eva's Visit to Fairyland; The Flower's Lesson; Lily-Bell and Thistledown; Little Bud; Clover-Blossom; Little Annie's Dream, or the Fairy Flower; Ripple, the Water-Spirit; and Fairy Song. See other titles by this author available from Kessinger Publishing.
Three little Fairies sat in the fields eating their breakfast; each among the leaves of her favorite flower, Daisy, Primrose, and Violet, were happy as Elves need be.
Card catalog description
Six stories and three poems relate the adventures of the fairy folk and their friends, the flowers.
From the Publisher
A talented group has been assembled to produce this edition. Daniel Shealy, the Alcott scholar who has edited the complete body of her fantasy fiction, contributes an illuminating afterward and is the book's editorial consultant. Leah Palmer Preiss's incomparable art suits the fresh and imaginative spirit of these pioneering tales. A playful facet of Preiss's exquisite illustrations is her inclusion of hidden quotes from and minuscule portraits of individuals who helped shape Alcott's life and work. Look closely and discover the words and faces of Shakespeare, Plato, Alcott's beloved mentors Emerson and Thoreau, and many more.
From the Inside Flap
For nearly 150 years, children around the world have cherished the stories and novels of Louisa May Alcott, including, of course, that most beloved classic Little Women. Surprisingly, there is a body of work by this American master not known to the general public, as it has not been widely published since her lifetime -- her fairy tales and fables.
These stories grew out of Alcott's experience, starting at the age of sixteen, as a teacher and storyteller to the children of her Concord, Massachusetts neighbors, among them Ralph Waldo Emerson. Alcott's imagination was nurtured by woodland walks with her friend Henry David Thoreau, including visits to his cabin on Walden Pond, and by the Transcendentalist philosophies of her father, Bronson Alcott. In this atmosphere she fashioned highly imaginative tales for her students. Encouraged by their spirited response, Alcott published six of her fairy tales under the title Flower Fables in 1854, marking the inception of her life as a pioneer in American fantasy fiction.
Indeed, it seemed a natural extension of Alcott's intellectual curiosity and love of nature to create a vibrant environment of possibility for children. Through these marvelously enticing encounters with fairies, elves, and animals, Alcott laid a foundation for young people based on the essential themes of love, kindness and responsibility.
A little girl lay on the grass down by the brook wondering what the brown water said as it went babbling over the stones. As she listened, she heard another kind of music which seemed to come nearer and nearer, till round the corner floated a beautiful boat filled with elves, who danced on broad green leaves of lily of the valley. The white bells of the tall stem, which was the mast, rung loud and sweet.
A flat rock covered with moss stood in the middle of the brook, and here the boat was anchored for the elves to rest a little. Eva watched them at their play as they flew about or lay fanning themselves and drinking from red-brimmed cups on the rock. Wild strawberries grew in the grass close by, and Eva threw some of the ripest to the fairy folk, for honey and dew seemed a poor sort of lunch to the child. Then the elves saw her, and nodded and smiled and called, but their soft voices could not reach her. So after whispering among themselves, two of them flew to the brookside and, perching on a buttercup, said, close to Eva's ear, "We have come to thank you for your berries and to ask if we can do anything for you, because this is our holiday, and we can become visible to you."
"Oh, let me go to fairyland!" cried Eva. "I have longed to see and know all about you dear little people. I never believed it was true that there were no fairies left," she said, so glad to find that she was right.
"We should not dare to take some children, for they would do so much harm, but you believe in us. You love all the sweet things in the world and never hurt innocent creatures or tread on flowers, or let ugly passions come into your happy little heart. You shall go with us and see how we live."
But as the elves spoke, Eva looked very sad and said, "How can I go? I am so big-I should sink that pretty ship with one finger."
The elves laughed and touched her with their soft hands, saying, "You cannot hurt us now. Look in the water and see what we have done."
Eva looked and saw a tiny child standing under a tall blue violet. It was herself, in a white pinafore and little pink sun-bonnet, but so small she seemed an elf. She clapped her hands and skipped for joy, but as she looked from the shore to the rock, she suddenly grew sober again.
"But now I am so wee, and I have no wings. I cannot step over, and you cannot lift me, I am sure."
"Give us each a hand, and do not be afraid," said the elves, and whisked her across like dandelion down.
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