Review Blog

Feb 09 2016

The Selfish Giant and Other Stories by Oscar Wilde

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Ill. by Philip Waechter. Alma Classics, 2015. ISBN 9781847494979
Themes: Fairy tales, Moral stories. This is a collection of moral tales that demonstrates Oscar Wilde's story-telling skills. The stories remind us of the dangers of wealth; that generosity and kindness are valuable attributes; that love and sacrifice are beautiful, but not always recognised and valued. Many of the stories are fairy tales in the sense that they have talking animals and faraway kingdoms that interact with the characters in solving unusual problems. The characters themselves display quirks of behaviour that could only exist in a fairy tale. And there is not always a positive 'happy-ever-after' ending, but often there is a lesson that can be learned from the failings of the story participants.
This is a reprinting of a selection of Wilde's early stories from the late 1800s and consequently the language is fairly traditional and is more ornately descriptive than contemporary writing styles. Some younger readers may get lost in the descriptive detail and language, but there is a glossary at the back of the book to describe some of the terms used. At the end of the book there is also some biographical detail (in detail appropriate for younger readers), as well as a summary of each story. Simple line drawings are sparsely scattered through the stories.
Young readers that enjoy the challenges of the intricacies and sophistications of writing from the 19th Century will enjoy this collection of stories.
Carolyn Hull

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