A Wonder-Book for Boys and Girls
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“A Wonder-Book for Boys and Girls,” Nathaniel Hawthorne's gentle, charming collection of classic myths retold for the children of his day is a neglected classic. Addressing the reader in personable Victorian fashion, his prose is clear and beautiful. Consider this sample: "Within the verge of the wood there were columbines, looking more pale than red, because they were so modest, and had thought proper to seclude themselves too anxiously from the sun. There were wild geraniums, too, and a thousand white blossoms of the strawberry. The trailing arbutus was not yet quite out of bloom; but it hid its precious flowers under the last year's withered forest-leaves, as carefully as a mother-bird hides its little young ones." But Hawthorne is also equal to the task of less genteel, more vigorous images: "At this sound the three heads reared themselves erect, and belched out great flashes of flame. Before Bellerophon had time to consider what to do next, the monster flung itself out of the cavern and sprung straight toward him, with its immense claws extended, and its snaky tail twisting itself venomously behind." Adding to the pleasure of these retold tales is the gorgeous art of Arthur Rackham, both in black-and-white drawings and full-color plates, which captures the unearthly beauty and the unexpectedly surprising humor of Hawthorne's work. Highly recommended!
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