Fairy tales seem to be part of the collective literary consciousness no matter when or where one came of age. But the terror of the Big Bad Wolf and the tenacity of the Three Little Pigs are only a glimmer of the wealth afforded by this most classic of literary forms. With firm roots in oral tradition and tendrils that reach deep into the human psyche, the fairy tale is the consummate example of a good story well told. DK Publishing adds a comprehensive and noteworthy volume to this genre with The Illustrated Book of Fairy Tales, retold by Neil Philip, illustrated by Nilesh Mistry. Categorized according to culturally universal themes "Under a Spell," "Riches and Rags," "Heroes and Heroines," and "True Love Conquers All," this 52-story collection is clearly worthy of its subtitle, "Spellbinding Stories from around the World." Incorporating lore from such richly diverse regions as Costa Rica, Trinidad, Finland, and Zaire alongside the more well-known tales of England, Japan, Greece, and the Native American, Philip has culled a collection as easily used by parents for reading to children at home as by teachers and librarians for group story time. Mistry's muted yet evocative illustrations are an essential element in the title's success, highlighting and complementing the most crucial and telling moments of the tales. They are paired with reproductions of drawings, photographs, and illustrations from earlier tellings that bring together both a creative and a historical perspective for enjoying the stories. In DK signature fashion each page brims with ancillary factual information, a device which never fails either to entice a reluctant reader or to enrich a willing one. Reviewed by Denise Yagel Oliveri.

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