The Snow Queen: A Tale in Seven Stories by Hans Christian Andersen, translated by Jean Hersholt, illustrated by Sanna Annukka

Danish-American actor Jean Hersholt, (famous for playing the grandfather in the movie Heidi starring Shirley Temple), born in Copenhagen, was a huge Hans Christian Andersen fan who translated over 160 of Andersen’s fairy tales which were published in 1949. These are the stories I read as a child and this is the version of The Snow Queen which is considered THE standard translation or the best English version.

So it’s the illustrations which really make the difference in this book. 1/2 Finnish, 1/2 English illustrator, Sanna Annukka, known for her printmaking and product design, shows her fascination of folklore through her unique style utilizing simple, but bold patterning influenced by Scandinavian designs and her talent for silkscreening. Annukka’s designs are found decorating album covers, carpets, wood carvings, fabrics, pottery, and numerous other objects. This is the second of Andersen’s stories she has illustrated, the first being The Fir Tree.

Annukka’s illustrations are geometrically based, with an intricate and creative use of patterns utilizing combinations of blue, tan, black, white, red, and gold. Several of the drawings are stunning, such as the snow queen on a “goose” sled in black and tan with a vivid blue sun and icy ground or the white and black crow overlaid on red, like a cutout with the background color a part of the drawing. While amazing, at times the illustrations are jarring, with the imposing images possibly reflecting the world from a child’s eyes. Some of the drawings are actually too detailed, almost cluttered, making it difficult to find the focal point. In any case, the designs seem to be more for adult admiration, and might not be appreciated by a younger audience. Still, the uniqueness is definitely worth a look see.

Four stars and a thank you to Netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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