Snow White and Rose Red: A Flight

After reading ( and loving) the new picture book Snow and Rose by by Emily Winfield Martin, we were drawn to revisiting the tale to see if there are picture book and YA authors who share our obsession.  And yes!  There are easily enough books across the readers’ ages to create a book flight. I’ve chosen my favorites for this blog.

I was thrilled to find images from the picture book my sister and I pored over as kids (Ruth here) and chose that picture to illustrate this blog.  Brought back so many memories!  In my recollection, this illustration is from a Little Golden Book, but I also remember reading about these sisters in The Blue Fairy Book, which includes a translation of the Brothers Grimm tale by Andrew Lang (1899).

I encourage you to check that story out as a starting place.  Then, dig into the luscious pictures books and retellings across the ages.  And let us know if we’ve missed a favorite of yours.

Primary Age Picture Books:

Rose Red and Snow White by Ruth Sanderson

My favorite retellings are usually illustrated with full-color oil paintings, and this version of Snow White and Rose Red is a wonderful example. The text adheres to the original Grimm version:  the two very different sisters live in a cottage in the woods with their mother, a cozy but simple life.  One night, a huge shaggy bear knocks on their door and asks to be let in to warm himself. Though they are initially frightened by his gruffness, they soon befriend him and look forward to his nightly visits. They are sad to see him leave in the spring, and take to heart his warnings about a little man coming their way.  Fairy tale adventure ensues (no spoilers here, just the bare bones of the story), including treachery, love, and magic.  I felt transported by the magical retelling and the incredible and lush illustrations.  A terrific read-aloud to start your Flight adventure with your family.


Snow White and Rose Red by Barbara Cooney

The same Brothers Grimm tale is told here, but the illustrations are classic Barbara Cooney. The Caldecott award-winning illustrator comes through with her characteristic humor and charm.  Readers will appreciate the chance to compare and contrast the different styles and interpretations.  Both illustrated picture books are superb.


Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia Wrede

If you like retellings set in different historical times, this romantic illustrated tale is for you. Blanche and Rosamund live with their mother, the Widow Arden, in the village of Mortals during the reign of Elizabeth I. The daughters help their mother gathering the herbs she sells to support them, sometimes crossing over into the Land of the Faerie.  Magic, romance, and medieval England are all evoked in both the language of the text and the captivating illustrations.


Teen and Young Adult:

The Shadow of the Bear:  A Fairy Tale Retold by Regina Doman

Definitely a retelling, but securely grounded in the original Grimm tale.  Two sisters, Blanche and Rose, move to New York City with their widowed mother and attend a contemporary (and quite realistic) high school.  Bear is the nickname of a young man who befriends the girls and visits them at their apartment through a long winter. Rather than give away the plot, I’ll just say that it does follow the story you have come to know in a very contemporary world.  I liked the writing style and cared about the characters.  One warning is that the book is steeped in Catholic faith.  It is never preachy, though, and I found the belief system to be woven through the story as part of the characters’ philosophy; it wasn’t intrusive.  I’d give it a try!




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