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Monday, September 10, 2018

Once Upon a World board books by Chloe Perkins

Once upon a time, a writer teamed up with different illustrators to create beautiful, colorful board books that re-told classic fairy tales. The tales are simple versions of the classic fairy tales with one twist: the illustrations set the tales in locations around the world, and the art choices reflect the cultures of each individual book's setting.

Once Upon a WorldRapunzel, illustrated by Archana Sreenivasan, sets Rapunzel's tower in India. Instead of a flowing European ball gown, Rapunzel wears colorful saris, dangly jewelry, and flowers in her hair. The flowers and plants in the background are reminiscent of henna art, and multicolored peacocks wander along palace grounds.

Cinderella, illustrated by Sandra Equihua, sets the classic tale in Mexico, where Cinderella feeds chickens through adobe windows, carries carefully wrapped plates of tamales, and works hard to make dresses for her family to wear to the big fiesta at the palace. Cinderella ends the book with roses in her coiled hair and a fluffy white dress that any girl might covet for her quinceaƱera.

Snow White, illustrated by Misa Saburi, calls upon smudged line art that looks like it was painted with broad brush strokes. This book is slightly less colorful than the previous stories, but there is a great emphasis on cherry blossoms and dark trees, and Snow White's life brightens up with the introduction of the seven dwarfs in assorted colorful kimonos.

The Princess and the Pea, illustrated by Dinara Mirtalipova, moves our titular princess to Russia, where the servants wear nutcracker-esque red jackets, the palace has towers straight out of St. Petersburg, and the stack of feather mattresses sports some amazing patterned sheets.

Nothing in the text of any of the stories indicates the change in setting. The art and art styles show that each classic tale can apply to any culture, not just those most frequently depicted onscreen. The change in scenery may appeal to young fairy tale fans, especially since each of these fairy tales has different versions based on the country in which they are told. For slightly older readers who are hungry for different cultural perspectives of classic fairy tales, consider Cinderella: An Islamic Tale by Fawsia Gilani-Williams or Rachel Isadora's takes on Rapunzel and The Princess and the Pea. After all, it is important for children to know that regardless of background or race, everybody deserves a happily ever after.

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