I grew up in a log cabin with no running water in the mountains of New Mexico. So as a child I did not have TV, radio or even any neighbors to play with. That left books and my imagination!! This particular book was so special...I read these stories at least a 100 times, probably more. They took the place of cartoons and other distractions. Every word was scrutinized and every illustration was gone over and over because every time I looked, I saw something I missed before. My favorite stories were "The Tinder Box" by Hans Christian Anderson and "Donkey-skin" by Charles Perrault. Here's the beginning of the story and the illustration for Donkey-skin. The illustrations are all by Adrienne Segur, a little known French artist. I have never in my life seen more detailed and colorful illustrations. They are actually breathtaking, no kidding! Here's one of my favorites from the story "Bluecrest". Isn't it beautiful?!
Now that I am an adult and have children of my own, I understand why these stories and pictures were so fascinating to me as a child. They all basically have the same theme...an oprhaned little girl with an evil stepmother or evil somebody and a fairy godmother. Have you ever noticed that these old fairy tales are about a girl whose mother died, evil stepmother, etc.? I suppose it was because so many women died in childbirth back then. My 'fairy godmother' were my grandparents who I eventually moved in with. I thank God every day for them.
If you'd like to learn more about the illustrations by Adrienne Segur, you can visit http://www.endicott-studio.com/jMA03Summer/segur2.html. Most of her illustrations can be seen at http://www.artpassions.net/segur/ The first site also tells a little bit about the book and has some story excerpts. This particular book is no longer in print but you can buy it in the new version. Hopefully the stories are still the same.