Friday, September 5, 2014

Beautiful Book #11

Snow White in New York, adapted and illustrated by Fiona French. Oxford UP:1986. Winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal, 1986.

Folk and fairy tales have been illustrated in all manner of settings, time-periods and artistic styles over the years. All too often such re-imaginings feel gimmicky and mismatched with art that simply cannot extend the artist's vision beyond the words on the page. Sometimes, however, when an artist is innovative and thorough, magic happens. Such is the case with English painter and illustrator Fiona French's version of Snow White as set in 1920s New York. Art Deco illustrations are the perfect fit for the tale of a "poor little rich girl" whose fair face competes with that of her step-mother on the society pages of The New York Mirror. When her step-mother seeks revenge, Snow White flees to a jazz club where she becomes the vocalist for a seven member band and wins the heart of a music reviewer. The illustrations are gorgeous and both design and concept are excellent. My only wish is that the words themselves had a bit more finesse to bring them up to the standard set by the rest of the book.

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