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The universal elements of the fairy tale – intrepid heroes, fair maidens, resolution by subterfuge - shine through in this collection that stretches as far afield as India, Turkey and Sudan. In ‘The Satin Surgeon’, a resourceful princess outwits her wicked sister with an artful disguise. Little Maia’s adventures take her high above the Earth, carried by a swallow, while the Green Knight is saved from death by a soup made from snakes. ‘The Story of Little King Loc’ was adapted by Andrew Lang’s wife from L’Abeille, written by the French poet M. Anatole France.
In creating the Rainbow Fairy Books, Andrew Lang echoed the work of Perrault and the Brothers Grimm. Although he was also a novelist and poet, it is for his large contribution to the world’s stock of fairy tales that he is most remembered. This edition of The Olive Fairy Book is introduced by award-winning children’s author and poet Jane Yolen. With over 300 books to her name, Yolen has been called the Aesop of the 20th century. Here, she describes how the Rainbow Fairy Books were ‘a game-changer in the world of children’s literature’, setting a precedent for later anthologists like herself. Kate Baylay's exotic Art Deco-inspired illustrations are a captivating accompaniment to the stories. A dragon curls around the balustrades of a beautiful palace, the lovely Dorani flies across a starry sky, the Boy who Found Fear at Last frees a sinking ship from a mischievous sea-maiden. The tales are also interspersed with intricate black-and-white drawings by the artist.