Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Snow Queen

We had snow last night, just enough to make this morning, with it's pink sunrise, look startlingly beautiful.  No doubt it will melt today- great clumps are already dropping off the trees.  I was looking for a snow book to list and remembered this fairy tale.  With its story of friendship, robbers, a wild queen, a brave girl, and adventures over a frozen snowy landscape, it seemed perfect.

adapted by Naomi Lewis
illustrated by Errol Le Cain 1979

A version of Hans Christian Andersen's story with remarkable pictures by Errol Le Cain. The magical story follows two friends, Kay and Gerta. When Kay is lured away by the "tall, slender, brilliantly white" Snow Queen he forgets all about Gerta and his home.  But Gerta is determined to find him, asking wherever she goes and being led on her own deep adventure.  Past witches, rivers, crows, princes, and castles, Gerta finally meets a robber girl who helps her on her journey.  And in the far north castle of the Snow Queen she rescues her friend.

Kay looked at the Snow Queen; he could not imagine a wiser or lovelier face.  And she flew with him high up into the dark storm clouds, while the wind whistled and roared as if it were singing old ballads.

The coach stopped at the courtyard of a ruined castle.  Ravens and crows flew out of holes in the walls.  Inside, a large fire was burning in the middle of the stone floor.  The smoke rose to the roof, and had to find its own way out.  A great cauldron of soup stood over the fire and was bubbling away.

But where was little Kay all this time?  He was in the great cold palace.  The walls were of driven snow; the doors were of cutting wind.  The snow had formed into more than a hundred enormous halls; all were vast, empty , glittering, and icy cold.  The largest was many miles long; in the midst of it was a frozen lake, and there the Snow Queen liked to sit when she was at home.


  1. We have the Susan Jeffers / Amy Erhlich edition, but I'm in love with the pictures and prose from yours!

  2. Ah, we don't have that one. We do have The Wild Swans done by Jeffers and Ehrlick (that's another of my favorite fairy tales. I loved that the youngest brother still had a swan's wing because his tunic was unfinished.