Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Wanda Gág won the Caldecott Honor Medal in 1939. The story stays very close to the tale collected by the Brothers Grimm. There are moments when Snow White is first in the house of the dwarfs and tries their food and beds until she finds what is just right for her. This seemed very "Goldilocks" to me, but upon checking the Grimms' text (which I haven't read for many years) I found that it was indeed part of the original story. At the end the wicked queen puts on red hot shoes and dances until she is dead. This was reminiscent of Anderson's The Red Shoes and my daughter and I were very surprised by it.

The illustrations are charmingly drawn and detailed. The timing of the publication of this book seems interesting. With Disney's first full-length animated feature Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs having been released in 1937. This book includes the three attempts (as opposed to the Disney film's one) of the wicked queen to kill Snow White: tightly drawn laces, poisoned comb and finally, poisoned apple.

Gág won another Caldecott Honor in 1942 for Nothing at All. She also won two Newbery Honors, Millions of Cats in 1929 and ABC Bunny in 1934. This always seemed odd to me since these two are picture books, but it is important to remember that the Caldecott Medal was not established until 1938 and so there was no other award for which to nominate picture books until then.

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