Hans Christian Andersen was a Danish author and poet. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, Andersen is best remembered for his fairy tales. Andersen's popularity is not limited to children; his stories—called eventyr, or "fairy-tales"—express themes that transcend age and nationality.
Andersen's fairy tales, which have been translated into more than 125 languages, have become culturally embedded in the West's collective consciousness, readily accessible to children, but presenting lessons of virtue and resilience in the face of adversity for mature readers as well. They have inspired motion pictures, plays, ballets, and animated films.
Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales, edited and illus. by Lisbeth Zwerger, trans. by Anthea Bell, originally published in 1991, includes three additional stories, and its new design matches Zwerger's Alice in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. The 11 tales include the familiar ("The Little Match Girl") and the lesser-known ("The Sandman"). Zwerger's signature watercolors come alive in full-page illustrations elegantly and simply framed in a band of white. From grief-stricken Thumbeline leaning over the dead swallow to the self-deluded, nearly naked emperor admiring himself vainly in the mirror, the artwork conveys a range of emotions. ( May)