The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde (Chris Beatrice, illustrator)

Once upon a time I had an idea to post reviews of books I like to read my children. Alas, like so many of my ideas it never quite took off. But in this case it did pay off in at least one way.  It seems Dan Goeller stumbled upon that review and thought I might be interested in his project.

Goeller, a composer, was part of a new rendition of the Oscar Wilde classic The Selfish Giant but this one a musical as well as literary effort:

Oscar Wilde’s classic fairy tale springs to life in this imaginative adaptation for symphony orchestra and narrator.  Composer Dan Goeller’s captivating music captures the humor and poignancy of Wilde’s story. For example, one can hear the sweet singing of the birds in the flutes or the sound of the growling Giant in the tuba. Both children and adults will delight in the superb narration of celebrated English actor Martin Jarvis. The symphonic score is perfectly complemented by the illustrations of award-winning artist Chris Beatrice.  His skillful use of light and color adds an enchanting quality to his stunning visual portraits of Wilde’s imaginative world. This perfect union of art and music is sure to inspire children of all ages for generations to come.

After having a chance to look and listen to the story, I have to say it is well done. A joy to listen to and read.  For more and a video example see below.

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The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde & Lisbeth Zwerger (illustrator)

***I mentioned last week that I was thinking of a new series based on books I like to read my kids.  Tonight I was inspired enough to kick the series off.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy reading these books to my kids.***

the-selfish-giantWhat to do when your finances don’t allow for endless book buying?  Well, the library of course!  But in the case of books for children I don’t mean that in quite the way you might think.  One of the nicer neighborhoods near where we live has a nice library of course.  But they also have a wonderful children’s book section in their Friends of the Library book sale area.

I particularly enjoy older children’s books (older in terms of  publishing date not age of the children).  And so love hunting through the kids section looking for hidden gems.  That way I can surprise my kids with a new story to read and it only costs me a dollar or two.  I have found quite a few great books this way.

Which brings us to the subject of this post.  I found this great edition of Oscar Wilde’s children’s story The Selfish Giant.  It has wonderful watercolor illustrations by Lisbeth Zwerger (I frequently look for books with nice or unique illustrations as my wife is an artist and loves these books as much as the kids).

I was not familiar with the story prior to bringing it home.  Having read it a few times now, it has moved into my favorites list. It is a wonderfully simple fairy tale about the dangers of cutting your self off from the world.  And it ends with, for me, a moving reminder of the power of the Christian faith.

But no matter what your faith background, or lack thereof, it really is a gem of a story about the soul killing nature of isolation, the magic of  children, the wonders of spring, and the powers of love. The happy tale ends on a deeply sad note but carries with it either the cycle of life or the promise of redemption depending on your perspective. (I will admit holding back tears on occasion.)

The story is widely available online in its entirety (here for example) so if you aren’t familiar with it read it – you will be glad you did.  Of course, to truly enjoy it, IMO, you need the wonderful illustrations offered by this particular edition. The delicate water colors match the tone and feel of the story perfectly in my mind.  We have also read Hans Christian Anderson’s The Swineherd with her illustrations and they are equally well done. She really is an incredible artist.

For our family a book like this is a wonderful edition to the library.  Not just because of the joy it provides as a bed time story, but because it is a both a parable for young and old – and a message we all need to hear – and a work of art.  And sharing that art together makes it all the more special.

Do you have books like this in your family?  Did you read this story when you were younger? I would love to hear your thoughts.

The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde & Lisbeth Zwerger (illustrator)

***I mentioned last week that I was thinking of a new series based on books I like to read my kids.  Tonight I was inspired enough to kick the series off.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy reading these books to my kids.***

the-selfish-giantWhat to do when your finances don’t allow for endless book buying?  Well, the library of course!  But in the case of books for children I don’t mean that in quite the way you might think.  One of the nicer neighborhoods near where we live has a nice library of course.  But they also have a wonderful children’s book section in their Friends of the Library book sale area.

I particularly enjoy older children’s books (older in terms of  publishing date not age of the children).  And so love hunting through the kids section looking for hidden gems.  That way I can surprise my kids with a new story to read and it only costs me a dollar or two.  I have found quite a few great books this way.

Which brings us to the subject of this post.  I found this great edition of Oscar Wilde’s children’s story The Selfish Giant.  It has wonderful watercolor illustrations by Lisbeth Zwerger (I frequently look for books with nice or unique illustrations as my wife is an artist and loves these books as much as the kids).

I was not familiar with the story prior to bringing it home.  Having read it a few times now, it has moved into my favorites list. It is a wonderfully simple fairy tale about the dangers of cutting your self off from the world.  And it ends with, for me, a moving reminder of the power of the Christian faith.

But no matter what your faith background, or lack thereof, it really is a gem of a story about the soul killing nature of isolation, the magic of  children, the wonders of spring, and the powers of love. The happy tale ends on a deeply sad note but carries with it either the cycle of life or the promise of redemption depending on your perspective. (I will admit holding back tears on occasion.)

The story is widely available online in its entirety (here for example) so if you aren’t familiar with it read it – you will be glad you did.  Of course, to truly enjoy it, IMO, you need the wonderful illustrations offered by this particular edition. The delicate water colors match the tone and feel of the story perfectly in my mind.  We have also read Hans Christian Anderson’s The Swineherd with her illustrations and they are equally well done. She really is an incredible artist.

For our family a book like this is a wonderful edition to the library.  Not just because of the joy it provides as a bed time story, but because it is a both a parable for young and old – and a message we all need to hear – and a work of art.  And sharing that art together makes it all the more special.

Do you have books like this in your family?  Did you read this story when you were younger? I would love to hear your thoughts.