Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Fisherman and His Wife


Isadora, Rachel. 2008. The Fisherman and His Wife.

The Fisherman and His Wife is Rachel Isadora’s third picture book in a series of fairy tale adaptations. Her previous books include The Twelve Dancing Princesses and The Princess and the Pea. The Fisherman and His Wife is a Brothers Grimm tale. What makes Rachel Isadora’s adaptation unique? She relies closely on the traditional tale as far as her narrative goes. The difference is in the setting. Isadora’s fairy tale is set in Africa. This is largely conveyed by her bold, colorful illustrations. A collage style that has earned her high praise in the past.

For those unfamiliar with the tale, The Fisherman and His Wife is a story about greed. “Long ago there was a fisherman who lived with his wife in a pigsty by the sea.” When this fisherman catches a large fish—a flounder—he spares him when the fish speaks of being an enchanted prince. And that might have been the end of the story except that the man shares that day’s events with his wife. His wife sees great potential. She can’t understand why her husband didn’t think to ask the fish to grant a wish. His wife sends him back to the sea to search for the fish. His wife’s demand? A hut. Sounds reasonable. But it’s just a very small start in a long list of demands.

The Fisherman and His Wife is a wonderful read, and the illustrations are beautiful. I highly recommend this one to those that love fairy tales and fairy tale adaptations.

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