There's nothing even remotely matter-of-fact about The Book of Ballads, a collection of folk songs and fairy tales illustrated by Charles Vess and written by some of the biggest names in comics and fantasy writing, including Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Jeff Smith (Bone) and Charles de Lint. Vess' delicate line drawings and fairy-tale subject matter can trace their roots back to the likes of Edward Burne-Jones and Arthur Rackham.

Becky Ohlsen writes from Portland, Oregon.

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