While clearly based in the Grimm Brothers’ version, The True Snow White takes the reader deeper into the story and into the mind and heart of Snow White than any version I have read before.
No longer is she an idealized, stereotypical Disney princess. She has her good days and her bad, her positive attributes and her negative.
Finally, her story is not about a girl waiting to be rescued from a glass box, but about the coming of age of a young woman. This, not the omnipresent cartoon version, is the sort of Snow White I want my daughter to care about!
Abigail Mieko Vargus, Editor
I truly enjoyed the positive message in The True Snow White. It’s a refreshing spin on the traditional tale most of us are so familiar with.
In a day and age when children, as well as adults, can stand to learn some valuable life principles from such a beloved and time-honored tale, The True Snow White brings a unique twist to a classic with solidly written and masterfully flowing prose.
The simple teachings of the Seven Dwarves are universal, ultimately concluding that to find happiness, one must seek and find their true self – and to that self, be true.
The True Snow White is a must-read for young and old alike. I highly recommend it to anyone who seeks an enjoyable read of a classic fairy tale.
Dawne Brooks, Editor
The True Snow White is an excellent story, and unlike many translations and so-called retellings, this fresh approach to the Grimm Brothers’ familiar tale presents a story that today’s audience can appreciate and characters that will appeal to readers of all ages.
Tackling a highly beloved and popular tale such as this is no quick and easy task. In fact, most English language versions of the Grimm Brothers’ stories are simply unreadable, and looking at some of the German originals, one realizes how much of their natural flow and language has been lost.
Past experience has shown that it’s far from easy for contemporary Anglo-American writers to move safely in the classic fairy tale world without sliding into weird and artificial fantasy, partly because they have little reference, if any at all, to undistorted fairy tale renditions from their early childhood.
Indeed, most of them seem to find it impossible to resist twisting the tone and voice of any historic source material to suit their own, spur-of-the moment idea, rather than taking a classic theme and structure that has already been laid out and truly getting it to shine.
Part of the challenge here is in understanding that the fairy tales collected and published by the Grimm Brothers were never intended to be written compositions, but a record of ancient, oral tradition. Consequently, in adapting them one has to entirely refrain from applying any kind of modern writing style and simply record them as they would have been recounted around some long gone, family evening fireplace.
Clear enough, but it took The True Snow White years of trial and error to finally arrive at the proper way of expanding from a 12-page story into one that ran slightly more than 250 pages while maintaining that elusive fairy tale feeling.
But who would think that the original Snow White as first recorded by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm and reworked countless times in the last two centuries, would be the kind of fairy tale in need of yet another retelling? There certainly doesn’t seem to be anything left to learn from it: a girl who is too good and beautiful to be true, and her completely improbable rescue from a stepmother who is too villainous to be believed.
The rescuers, first a band of helpful dwarves and then the standard handsome prince, don’t have anything else to do but get Snow White out of the trouble that her goodness and beauty got her into. When I was a child, I had no use for Snow White. She was pretty without trying, well behaved without being prodded, and loved by just about everyone.
I had a sister like that, and didn’t blame Snow White’s stepmother one bit for wanting to get rid of her. And whenever I read the fairy tale or watched the Disney movie, I lost interest as soon as Snow White was in the glass coffin. As far as I was concerned, that was the happy ending.
In refreshing contrast, the title character in The True Snow White is much easier to identify with.
Despite her kindness, Snow White can be stubborn, whiny, and a real brat. She disobeys her father, who is too self-absorbed to pay her much attention, and talks back to her stepmother, who isn’t so much evil as insecure and narcissistic. It’s Stepmother’s formidable command of the forces of darkness that makes her so dangerous.
Snow White complains about being lonely and amuses herself by sneaking off to visit the poor people in the village, or by playing by herself in her tower castle on the royal estate.
She doesn’t act much better when she has taken refuge with the dwarves. They tell her time and time again not to let strangers in when she is home alone. But does she listen? Of course not. Even though she comes to grief each time, Snow White, like most of us, doesn’t always do as she is told, even when it is for her own good.
These are the kind of characters that readers can understand. And this is where The True Snow White departs the most from earlier tellings of the story: she really doesn’t have anything to learn, but under the tutelage of the dwarves Snow White is brought to a realization of what she already knows in her heart, to trust it, and to act accordingly.
In this way The True Snow White gently conveys life lessons in a way that isn’t preachy or condescending. It’s charming tone preserves the melody and cadence of the original, the main characters are realistic, and the attention to detail is flawless.
Indeed, this is a Snow White for the twenty-first century!
Jena M. Gaines, Editor
PH.D. in History, B.A. in Anthropology