Fantasy Comes in All Colors

Fantasy Comes in All Colors

When I was a young girl, my grandmother would buy me all sorts of amazing children’s books to read. Her book curation was special, and I’ve been charmed by it. Not only did she fancy herself an artist when she was very young, but she also spent a good portion of her professional life running the children’s section of the Boston Public Library. She knew a lot about the books she brought me, especially about the illustrators. Some are still famous today, like Make Way for Ducklings written and illustrated by Robert McCloskey or Maurice Sendak’s Chicken Soup With Rice. But none of the books she brought to me topped the fairy tale collections and the dark, spidery drawings they contained.

The Rainbow Fairy Tale Book Series, compiled and edited by Andrew Lang, were popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. You can easily get copies of them in paperback where the illustrations by H. J. Ford are very well printed, compared to the oft-smooshy wood prints found in many of the old ones. Some of the rare antique ones go for between $500-$700. They are beautiful things containing spooky fairy tales compiled from around the world.

When artist Caitlin Hackett told me quite a while ago that she’d been hired by the Folio Society, a publisher of fancy hardcover books from England, to illustrate a recreation of one of these books, I was, needless to say, just a little excited (i.e. I lost my mind). Finally, after months of hard work, Caity announced today that her Lilac Fairy Book is available for purchase. Only three images are published online – you have to buy the book at a lofty $85 + shipping from London to see the rest of them.

The Folio Society seems to be republishing a book from the series every couple of years. They are covered in cloth, come with a storage box and are quite large at 10″x8″x2.5″ to do the art justice. Is it worth the price? It is to me, especially since someone bought me a copy of the Green Fairy Book for my birthday last year.

Congrats to Caity on this wonderful accomplishment!

Three of Caity’s illustrations for the Lilac Fairy Book:

Three of H. J. Ford’s illustrations from some of the other color fairy tail books:

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