Lisbeth Zwerger
“Brüder GRIMM MÄRCHEN”, translated by Anthea Bell(Minedition)

I knew very little of the illustrator before discovering this book, but I have since discovered that Lisbeth Zwerger, who is Austrian, is a much acclaimed illustrator and recipient of many prestigious prizes, including the Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 1990 in recognition of her lifetime contribution to children’s literature. She has dedicated much of her work to illustrating traditional fairy tales, many of which are published by Michael Neugebauer, and Tales from the Brothers Grimmpublished this year  to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the first edition of the Grimms’ tales of eleven of the Grimms’ fairy tales, is one of them.

Adorned by Zwerger’s lavish artwork, this collection is exquisitely stylish. 
Zwerger’s style, which consists of watercolour washes and darker, though not black, outlines is wonderfully atmospheric and suits the tone of fairy-tales perfectly. The artwork for Hansel and Gretel particularly showcases this, with a sense of nearly suffocating darkness looming in the artwork, mirroring the threatening evil present within the tale. There is a very strong element of lyricism to the illustrations as well as a strong sense of individuality. Lisbeth Zwerger’s style is very much her own and although illustration and text work in perfect harmony, and the tales are faithful to the traditional versions, she manages to make each her own, with her own interpretation, her own focus on small specific details.

Look at the child’s expression in this illustration from The Children of Hamelin. This small detail alone tells a thousand stories.

The tales included in this collection are a selection of well-known tales as well as more obscure ones. I had never heard of Hans My Hedgehog for example. Interestingly, some of those well-known tales carry a different title in this selection: Little Red Riding Hood becomes Little Red Cap, and The Piped Piper of Hamelin becomes The Children of Hamelin. These could be due to the translation process, and certainly does not hinder enjoyment of the tales. It is nonetheless intriguing, and is potentially an interesting discussion point with young readers.

Tales from the Brothers Grimm is beautifully accomplished aesthetically, not only thanks to Lisbeth Zwerger’s elegant and atmospheric artwork but also because of the overall look, and feel, of the book. One can see that a lot of thought has been put into its design and that it has been meticulously put together; the quality of paper, for example, showcases the artwork fantastically and attests that Minedition is a publisher which cares greatly about the quality of its books.
One cannot but help cherish books of this quality, and so t
his is a wonderful gift book, which will best suited for slightly older children, and adults too, of course.

The book can be seen in its entirety on the publisher’s website, here. 

All illustrations © Lisbeth Zwerger

Source: review copy from Bounce Sales & Marketing