Sleeping Beauty, retold by Mahlon F. Craft, illustrated by Kinuko Y. Craft (SeaStar Books)
This is a gorgeous illustrated version of Sleeping Beauty. One of the unique features about this version are the illustrated letters beginning the text on each page. I also love how the fairies are depicted.
The good fairies are ethereal beings, non-corporeal, with a glow about them, as if they’re gods.
The evil fairy has a wizened face and hands emerging from a smoke monster inferno of black birds. Pretty gosh darn scary.
The time period feels very Renaissance with glorious pearl detailing and rich brocade fabrics and translucent overlays on the dresses, suggesting maybe silk or organza.
What surprised me the most about this version was the depiction of the youngest fairy sister. The twelfth fairy arrives on a fiery chariot drawn by dragons, too late to stop the curse, but able to console the king and queen and put the realm to sleep.
I’ll repeat in case you were scanning and missed that bit.
A CHARIOT OF FIRE DRAWN BY DRAGONS
That is really, really cool and kind of scary for a kids book. A detail that I caught for the first time re-reading this version is the presence of a German Shepherd in several of the illustrations. First, aboard the chariot, then secondly, present when the prince discovers Aurora, and lastly, when Aurora is awakened.
I kind of wonder if the twelfth fairy asked her pup to ‘shepherd’ the kingdom as they slept, because he’s depicted as sleeping when Aurora sleeps, and awake when she’s awake. It’s a neat little detail I’ve never noticed before.
This is a beautifully illustrated rendition of the legend of Briar Rose, and worthy of your collection.
The Sleeping Beauty, retold and illustrated by Mercer Mayer
One of the beautiful elements of this version of Briar Rose is the Celtic motifs throughout, featured at the top of each page and intermingled in the architecture and garments of the characters.
This original retelling shares more of the prince’s side from his origins to his quest to find Briar Rose.
There’s a lovely bit of original poetry spoken by the Blue Faerie as she pronounces her curse:
“Never shall you children bear, for this insult will not repair!”
The Blue Faerie is a fantastic villain. I love the details Mayer includes from her cobweb shawl to the horns and skull hair accessories. Unlike some versions of the story, this faerie appears before Briar Rose’s birth, at the christening, when the curse occurs, and we learn what happens to her following the one hundred year sleep.
Briar Rose is an exquisite beauty, Celtic to her roots with her striking ginger hair and emerald green gown. I love all the knot-work on the corset, hair accessories and bracelets.
Beyond the castle folk, the fairies, and Briar Rose and her prince, Mayer does some wonderful illustrations of the “tests” the prince encounters along his path to find his princess.
This version of The Sleeping Beauty is getting harder to find but I recommend that you snatch it up for your collection should you come across it. I will, if given the chance.