The Merry Pranks of Till Eulenspiegel by Heinz Janisch , Lisbeth Zwerger (Illustrator) , Anthea Bell (Translator)

The Lisbeth Zwerger tour continues here at CM. Today it is Till Eulenspiegel’s Merry Pranks by Heinz Janisch.  Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger and translated by Anthea Bell.

Hans Christian Andersen Medalist Lisbeth Zwerger cunningly illustrates 11 folktales about Till Eulenspiegel, the famous sixteenth-century German folk hero, popular in legend as a shrewd trickster. In this handsome reissue, she chronicles Till’s pranks from his triple dunking at his baptism, to his funeral, at which he leaves a last trick for his mourners. Zwerger’s celebrated wit and insouciant style are the perfect complements to the antics of this notorious merrymaker.

I will be honest: I bought this one mostly for the art. I have a growing collection of folk tales and story books for children but I am not sure my kids would enjoy this one.  It is an interesting reference point for German folklore but it is mostly the art of Zwerger that drew me to the book.

And the art is playful, colorful and evocative.  As PW says, “Both art and text are distinctly quaint and European.”  This is another book that I would be tempted to cut up in order to use the illustrations as prints. But I am too much of a book person to perform something so sacrilegious.

The stories are simple and silly – so maybe they are exactly the sort of thing children would love. Continue reading