The Green Fairy Book
Large Type Edition
By Andrew Lang
BiblioLife (2008), 348 pages
Genre: Classics - Children's Fiction
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - November 14, 2010
Andrew Lang (1844-1912) wrote a number of books of fairy tales and differentiated each from the other by color; for example, this one is green, and others are pink, blue, grey, brown, and lilac. This is his third book "of many colors." The first was blue and the second red. He drew his tales from many countries. He believes that the first fairy tales were written in Egypt "about Joseph’s time, nearly three thousand five hundred years ago." He contends that the authors of the fairy tales were made "by men who were childlike in their amusement, so they amuse children still." Some were written to teach morals. But people read them to be amused and diverted rather than to learn lessons. He includes very old tales as well as some written only about two centuries before his time in France. Only one of the dozens of tales is well-known: The Story of the Three Bears. Lang is an excellent writer and children should enjoy his tales.
Nevertheless, since they are all fairy tales, they have many of the usual items found in other fairy tales. The Blue Bird is an example. It is a story of love. It has a cruel stepmother and an ugly step sister and a husband that does not want to go against the wishes of his second wife. There are fairies and an enchanter. A ring plays an important part as well as other jewels. Clothes and being dressed up and looking beautiful is part of the tale. There are tricks in the tale and deceit and unjust imprisonment. There is also a princess, actually two of them, and a handsome prince, called King Charming. There is a magic spell that seems to ruin the chances for the lovers to get together; a transformation from a human to an animal, in this case a blue bird; and the magic number seven. And the beautiful princess is as usual very young, here age fifteen.
Not all of the dozen tales have all these ingredients, but they are generally all very good.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of sixteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes Wagner and Drazin's latest book Let's Study Onkelos on www.ou.org/torah.