A beautifully illustrated book is a truly wonderful thing.
The Fir Tree tells the tale of a little fir tree, first living in the forest, learning what happens to other fir trees when they grow up, and coming to the city to be a Christmas tree. I’m not completely sure, but I think that the text of the story may be slightly abridged or adapted from the original. That’s not to fault it at all. Even if it is an adapted version, it continues to be a perfect example of a classic fairy tale.
This new edition of Hans Christian Andersen’s classic, The Fir Tree is beyond beautiful.
Paired with the classic story of the fir tree, print maker and illustrator Sanna Annukka (who you might recognize from her work with Marimekko) has created a beautiful complement of Scandinavian inspired images. Providing at times a literal take on the story and at other a relatively abstracted interpretation, the artwork is the true value of this edition. With beautifully repeating patterns and bright colorful symbols inspired by nature, the illustrations provide the perfect counterpart to a story about impatience.
All through the story, the little fir tree complains.
Impatient to grow up, the little fir tree complains of being jumped over by rabbits, overtaken by larger trees, and generally put upon by a grown up world. Rather than savoring the moments that make up its life, the little fir tree is never happy, always waiting to see what comes next.
Warned again and again of the folly of not living your life, the little fir tree never learns this valuable lesson.
For those of you more used to Disney’s corruptions of the originals, Hans Christian Andersen does not pull punches.
The tree ends up firewood.
Do we count original fairy tales as children’s stories anymore? Is a heavy handed morality lesson on the lost moments of youth really something to remind our kids of? As a non-parent, I may not be an expert, but I’m pretty sure my niece’s take-away from the fir tree would be “that’s scary!”
Of course, unpleasantness does not invalidate the lesson of The Fir Tree.
At this hectic time of year, we can all use a little reminder to stop looking forward at what will happen next, and start appreciating what is happening right in front of our faces. It’s easy to get caught up in what’s next. But taking a deep breath and enjoying the life you have is really what it’s all about.
Blogging for Books has provided Imaginary Book Club with a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes.
If you purchase the book using this link, we make pennies!