Winter wonderland

Winter wonderland

Hans Christian Andersen: The Snow Queen (Hutchinson 2015)

M. G. Leonard: The Ice Children (Macmillan Children’s Books 2023)

The basis of both tales is that the Snow Queen takes a child with her and brings him to her kingdom. However, a person close to the boy (sibling/friend) finds and saves him with great spiritual power.

The Snow Queen’s tale, although written by Andersen, has similarities to a folktale and tells the story of Gerda and Kay in seven stories. (It is interesting to note that, in contrast to classic fairy tales, Gerda is the hero here, who reaches the end of the road and rescues Kay despite many difficulties.) According to the first story (which is not always present in the tale), the devil made a mirror for his own amusement, in which all beautiful things became ugly and worthless, and all bad things became beautiful. The devil thought he would take this mirror to the heaven so that the angels could see a distorted image of themselves in it. However, his plan failed as his servants dropped the mirror and therefore broke it. However, its shards scattered around the world and caused even more trouble: the ones who got a small piece in their eyes saw only the bad side of everything, the ones whose hearts were hit,  immediately froze into ice. This is how the story begins, in which only love can melt the ice.

The shards of the mirror also play an important role in M. G. Leonard’s tale. On the night of December 1st, Bianca’s little brother is found frozen on a pedestal of ice in the park. His heart beats, but they can’t thaw him. When more children are found turning to ice sculptures every day, Bianca decides to put an end to it. The mystery involves a book with a silver cover that disappears every time. Reading, imagination and the power of fairy tales play an important role in the story. However, its most important message is the importance of mitigating the effects of the climate change. The writer herself is a member of several nature conservation associations.

This special edition of The Snow Queen was illustrated by Sanna Annuka, who has also designed patterns for Marimekko, the famous Finnish textile brand. The special fabric-covered edition of Andersen’s other fairy tale, The Fir Tree, and The Nutcracker by Hoffmann were also made with her unique illustration.

The magical illustrations of The Ice Children were created by Penny Neville-Lee, who is most inspired by bright colors, blank pages and freshly sharpened pencils, and is happiest when she can create.