Book Covers: Part I

I’ve been looking at cover art from various publications of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and thought I’d post a 3-part series. Each part will feature 5 covers. In Part 1 we have two Red Riding Hoods, one Snow White, one Sleeping Beauty and a Hansel and Gretel.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to identify artists by name (except in this first one, noted on the cover itself).

This work by Arthur Rackham captures not only a dramatic highlight in the Red Riding Hood tale, but one that easily works as an icon for all fairy tales. The depiction gives us both anticipation and confrontation in a classic “innocence meets darkness” story moment. Just don’t ask me why it’s cropped so poorly at the top! Would be great to see what she sees!

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In another approach to Red, this artist paints with a realism that gives us a moment’s pause once the story connection is made. While the girl seems to fit the bill for the tale, can we imagine this wolf wearing grandma’s nightgown and fooling anyone? Although we can easily imagine the two characters talking to each other in this captured moment, the choice not to visually personify the wolf is unusual at best. He seems to have wandered in from the cover of a collection of Aesop’s Fables.

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This (oil?) painted cover depicts Snow White’s discovery by the dwarfs after she goes to bed. Of course, Creepy has already spent the day watching her, but that’s neither here nor there.  😉  The lantern lighting and the facial expressions (including hers asleep) take center stage here. The title typography oddly blends in rather than pops out, but that was perhaps a sign of the times, before advertising imagery dictated so much of artistic design.

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One might argue this is Snow White with the black hair, but she wears a crown, so I have to go with Sleeping Beauty. The graphic approach makes sense coming from Taschen, a publisher of art books founded in Germany in 1980. The stacked type with uniform flourishes fits right in with the design-centric take.

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And speaking of type, it’s possible this type was added for the digital image. If not, what a waste of a design opportunity! If so, I’d love to see the original, because this is my favorite story image of all the covers. We’d fear for those kids even if we didn’t know what they were in for! I love how big brother Hansel is protecting his little sister, and how the cartoonish caricature of the witch works even though conventional wisdom says it shouldn’t. The limited palette is also a big plus for me as it adds dimension and strength to the image.

Which one do you like best? I’ll have Part II up soon with 5 more covers . . .

3 thoughts on “Book Covers: Part I

  1. I like the dwarfs looking at Snow White with the lantern. I am not as into the realism Red Riding Hood one. Love that Sleeping Beauty has dark hair — do you know why they choose that? I also kind of like that the first one is cropped in a way that we don’t see what she is seeing… especially if that picture appears again later int he story – and we finally get to see the wolf!

  2. I like the Snow White cover the best. The expressions on their faces are perfect. The Hansel and Gretel cover is scary — in a good way. I loved seeing these — a couple of them reminded me of books we had growing up, although I don’t recall these specific covers. Looking forward to the next batch!

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