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Written and illustrated by Annet Schaap

Translated from the Dutch by Laura Watkinson

Reviewed by Mia Macrossan

Girls by the Dutch writer and artist Annet Schaap is an original, challenging, maybe even hair raising collection of fairy tales that are not at all what you would expect. Seven familiar classic stories are presented through a different, more modern lens. Annet Schaap has been writing and illustrating books in her native Netherlands for some time. This is her second book to be translated into English after the popular and award winning Lampie and the Children of the Sea. Some of her back list is available at the State Library of NSW.
The title of each story gives you a clue as to where they came from but don’t expect anything conventional to follow. The main female characters in these stories may start off as familiar stereotypes but they soon show that they are very different. The settings are often real life with a touch of fantasy.
Mr Stiltskin is about a scheming dishonest miller, his dreamy romantic daughter, a greedy pleasure loving king and the fixer, a little man in a grey striped suit with a red tie. It is such a pleasure to see the dreamy daughter turn into a resourceful young woman. In Wolf the mother is hammering away at her keyboard trying unsuccessfully to get an online delivery to Grandma, so her daughter offers to go. Biscuits is the tale of two girls, Hanna and Greta who have a neglectful, absent father and who get lost in a big noisy and complicated city.
The writing is humorous, warm hearted and devious, with unexpected but very satisfying endings. The black and white artwork evokes mystery and enchantment but also the mundane that the girls have to negotiate.
This is a beautifully produced hardback edition, a treasure for readers of ten to a hundred.
Pushkin Press 2023
Annet Schaap
Laura Watkinson
1942 Amsterdam Ave NY (212) 862-3680

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