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Feathers, Paws, Fins, and Claws

Fairy-Tale Beasts

edited by Christine A. Jones and Jennifer Schackerillustrated by Lina Kusaite

Award Winner

Fairy-Tale Studies, Language and Literature, Children's Literature, Young Readers, Folklore

Published: September 2015
ISBN: 9780814340691
Pages: 136 Size: 209.55 x 273.05
Published: September 2015
ISBN: 9780814340707
Pages: 136 Size: EPUB
Book Images

A hoot, a roar, a howl, and a whoop—this collection of fairy tales reminds us that animals are always good to think with and that they hold up a vertiginous curved mirror to reveal as much about us as about the animal kingdom.

— Maria Tatar

A wide variety of creatures walk, fly, leap, slither, and swim through fairy-tale history. Some marvelous animal characters are deeply inscribed in current popular culture—the beast redeemed by beauty, the wolf in pursuit of little girls and little pigs, the frog prince released from enchantment by a young princess. But like the adventures of many fairy-tale heroes, a curious reader’s exploration in the genre can yield surprises, challenges, and unexpected rewards. Feathers, Paws, Fins, and Claws: Fairy-Tale Beasts presents lesser-known tales featuring animals both wild and gentle who appear in imaginative landscapes and enjoy a host of surprising talents. With striking original illustrations by artist Lina Kusaite and helpful introductions by fairy-tale scholars Jennifer Schacker and Christine A. Jones, the offbeat, haunting stories in this collection are rich and surprisingly relevant, demanding creative reading by audiences aged young adult and up.

Schacker and Jones choose stories that represent several centuries and cultural perspectives on how animals think and move. In these ten stories, rats are just as seductive as Little Red Riding Hood’s wolf; snakes find human mates; and dancing sheep and well-mannered bears blur the line between human and beast. Stories range in form from literary ballads to tales long enough to be considered short stories, and all are presented as closely as possible to their original print versions, reflecting the use of historical spelling and punctuation. Beasts move between typical animal behavior (a bird seeking to spread its wings and fly or a clever cat artfully catching its prey) and acts that seem much more human than beastly (three fastidious bears keeping a tidy home together or a snake inviting itself to the dinner table). Kusaite’s full-color artwork rounds out this collection, drawing imaginatively on a wide range of visual traditions—from Inuit design to the work of the British Arts and Crafts movement.

Together with the short introductions to the tales themselves, the illustrations invite readers to rediscover the fascinating world of animal fairy tales. All readers interested in storytelling, fairy-tale history, and translation will treasure this beautiful collection.

Jennifer Schacker is associate professor of English at University of Guelph and author of National Dreams: The Remaking of Fairy Tales in Nineteenth-Century England. Christine A. Jones is associate professor of French at the University of Utah and author of Shapely Bodies: The Image of Porcelain in Eighteenth-Century France. Jones and Schacker are longtime collaborators and co-editors of Marvelous Transformations: An Anthology of Fairy Tales and Contemporary Critical Perspectives. Lina Kusaite is an illustrator, designer, and art/life coach based in Brussels, Belgium. Her work has appeared in a wide range of international publications, computer games, and exhibitions, and was selected for display in Times Square as part of the see.me 2014 "seemetakeover" event. Kusaite's website is www.behance.net/cocooncharacters.

This beautifully illustrated collection offers ten vintage stories. Bird wives and bear husbands, maidens who marry fish and serpents, a monkey princess and a romantic rat, all challenge us to reconsider our stereotypical images of fairy tale beasts. A masterpiece.

– Kay Stone, emeritus professor of English, University of Winnipeg, and author of The Golden Woman, Burning Brightly and Some Day Your Witch Will Come (Wayne State University Press, 2008)

A timely plea for adventurous and critical readings, this book featuring enticing illustrations of shapeshifting and wonder is also a reminder that fairy tales are a transformative genre about multilayered transformations and ontological complexity.

– Francisco Vaz da Silva, faculty in folklore and anthropology, ISCTE-IUL, and author of Metamorphosis: The Dynamics of Symbolism in European Fairy Tales, Archeology of Intangible Heritage, and Contos Maravilhosos Europeus

A hoot, a roar, a howl, and a whoop—this collection of fairy tales reminds us that animals are always good to think with and that they hold up a vertiginous curved mirror to reveal as much about us as about the animal kingdom.

– Maria Tatar, editor of The Annotated Brothers Grimm

Schacker and Jones, scholars of folklore, argue in their introduction to this ten-entry collection that fairy tales are 'open to endless interpretation' and that it’s not just the postmodern versions that interrogate social norms and power dynamic. . . . This is a collection that offers readers, scholars, and storytellers an opportunity to investigate the many layers and thematic depths of fairy tales.

– Kate Quealy-Gainer, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

This is a beautifully and insightfully illustrated collection of tales or versions (each one with a one-page introduction), featuring an animal in one out of a variety of roles . . . The choice of tales in the book under review is thought-provoking. The editors and the illustrator are to be congratulated.

– Ephraim Nissan, Fabula

[...] Feathers, Paws, Fins, and Claws will amaze, enchant, and mystify. Highly recommended, especially in folktale and fairytale collections.

– James A. Cox, The Midwest Book Review

  • 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Award - Result: Finalist in the Children’s/Juvenile Fiction category
  • 2016 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards - Result: Tied for the Silver Medal for Best Illustrator (Lina Kusaite)