The Bremen Town Musicians

And Other Animal Tales from Grimm

By Doris Orgel; Bert Kitchen (Illustrator)
(Roaring Brook Press, Hardcover, 9781596430105, 48pp.)

Publication Date: September 9, 2004

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Six delightful stories, some familiar, some, less so, freshly translated by a noted author and sumptuously illustrated by a renowned artist.

There have been many collections of tales from the Brothers Grimm over the years but few as engaging, and as handsome, as this one. Doris Orgel, who treasured these stories as a child in Vienna, has chosen six of her favorites, all featuring animal characters, and brought them to life for contemporary audiences. In addition to the title story the collection includes The Hare and the Hedgehog, King of the Birds, How the Birds and Beasts Went to War, The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids, and The Fox and the Geese.

The stories are accompanied by marvelously detailed illustrations by Bert Kitchen, who previously collaborated with Ms. Orgel on her collection of Aesop tales, The Lion and the Mouse.

About the Author

Doris Orgel is the author of, among many titles, The Devil In Vienna, Ariadne, Awake! We Goddesses, and My Mother's Daughter, the latter published by Roaring Brook in 2003. She is the author of the Lion and the Mouse and Other Aesop Fables, illustrated by Bert Kitchen.

Bert Kitchen, one of England's most distinguished artists, is the author of Animal Alphabet and most recently illustrated The Lion and the Mouse and Other Aesop's Fables

Praise For The Bremen Town Musicians

Booklist PreS-Gr. 2. The creators of The Lion and the Mouse and Other Aesop's Fables (2000) offer another beautifully illustrated collection of tales, this time from the Brothers Grimm. Orgel has selected a group of animal stories, including "The Hare and the Hedgehog," "King of the Birds," and, of course, "The Bremen Town Musicians." Austrian by birth, Orgel translated the stories herself from German texts, and she retells them in the lively language and expert pacing of an experienced storyteller, following each selection with a short note about changes she made to the original. Kitchen contributes exquisitely detailed scenes in soft, muted colors and minute, feathery strokes, rendering remarkably expressive animals and atmospheric landscapes. A fine read-aloud for large or small groups, this will make an excellent addition to elementary classroom units about the Grimms.  Publishers Weekly Starred Review
The creators of The Lion and the Mouse deliver another handsomely illustrated collection, this time upbeat tales from the Brothers Grimm. Orgel, whose first language was German, stays faithful to the animal stories while adding fresh touches to her translations of the half dozen selections. For instance, the hedgehog wife comes up with a strategy to outwit the hare, rather than her husband, in "The Hare and the Hedgehog"; and the Bremen Town Musicians call each other by humorous names, such as "Whisker-Washer" for the cat and "Rabbit-Grabber" for the hound (Orgel explains her contributions in a brief endnote for each tale). A couple of lesser-known stories, such as "When the Birds and the Beasts Went to War" and "The Fox and the Geese," also make their way into this compilation. She often ends the tale with commentary or personal insights: "In the Grimm Brothers' time this tale was told as a warning to kids (the human kind) not to let strangers in," Orgel explains at the end of "The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids." Kitchen's attractive paintings, in full-page renderings and spot illustrations, feature realistic animals in muted browns and grays against rural landscapes. He does not endow them with human qualities but rather allows their true animal natures to shine through in his meticulous portraits. Each whisker and feather seems tactile enough to touch. Soft cream or blue borders frame the text, set cleanly and spaciously on the page. A brief biography of the Grimms rounds out what will soon become a family favorite. Ages 5-9.  School Library Journal Starred Review  Kindergarten-Grade 3–Six Grimm tales are newly translated and retold in a clear storytelling style that's perfect for reading aloud. The eponymous story leads off, followed by five lesser-known tales including "The Hare and the Hedgehog," "King of the Birds," "When the Birds and the Beasts Went to War," "The Fox and the Geese," and the more familiar "The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids." In an introductory note, Orgel recalls hearing her parents tell the stories in German in the plattdeutsch dialect and explains her method of translating and retelling so as to make the stories appealing for today's readers. At the end of each story she includes a brief comment, sometimes describing minor changes she chose to make. Kitchen'srepresentational paintings are meticulously rendered, softly textured works of art, often putting one in mind of Audubon and in perfect harmony with the tradition of the tales. Each page of text appears against a white background within a narrow frame depicting the landscape in which the story is set. Illustrations done in rich color range from tiny vignettes to full pages, and many are set in ovals or rectangles within the text frame. A one-page biographical sketch of the Grimm Brothers completes the book. A treasure of a treasury.–

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