Hans Christian Anderson: “The Snow Queen”

I took a break from Sherlock to read “The Snow Queen.” I had actually never heard of it until I started hearing about the Disney movie, Frozen. Only after starting it did I realize I’d just read a middle grade retelling of it, Breadcrumbs, by Annie Ursu. Since I am a preschool teacher and will soon be hearing all about the Disney version, I figured I should be familiar with the real version, and I’d heard it was really good.

Summary: Gerda and Kai were best friends until a shard from a magic mirror fell into Kai’s eye and went to his heart, which made him see the world in a more jaded and adult way (seeing the negative in everything). He abandons his friend and goes with the Snow Queen, whose kisses numb him and make him forget his friends and family. Gerda sets out to look for him and ends up on a magical adventure. She almost is adopted by a sorceress with a garden of flowers that tell strange tales, and then she is captured by robbers, and the best character in the book, the robber girl, who has a collection of animals she keeps to play with (like Elmira in Animaniacs) decides to help her and takes her to the queen’s castle on her reindeer with some stops at some magical old ladies’ houses. She finds Kai on a lake of ice and saves him. They go home.

As fairy tales go it was good. (Fairy tales generally are told with the stock hero representing all that’s good and pure, with a villain who is completely evil, who meets an appropriate gruesome end (though there are more tragic variations, of course), so the written versions I’ve read have never seemed that good to me, as stories go. They tend to just tell the story and leave all the details, such as character development.) This story actually had some character development, and it dealt with loss of innocence in a fairly innocent way. It still jumped around from strange event to strange event, as fairy tales do, but I did enjoy it.

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