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The Wild Swans

4.26  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,351 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
Eleven brothers, turned into wild swans by an evil stepmother, are saved by the sacrifices of their beautiful sister, Elisa.
Published (first published 1838)
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Beauty and the Beast by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Be...Cinderella by Loek KoopmansThe Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian AndersenRumpelstiltskin by Paul O. ZelinskyThe Snow Queen by Amy Ehrlich
Best Classic Fairytale
17th out of 85 books — 92 voters
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet MarillierThe Swan Kingdom by Zoë MarriottThe Wild Swans by K.M. SheaBirdwing by Rafe MartinGoose Chase by Patrice Kindl
The Wild Swans/The Six Swans Retellings
13th out of 23 books — 21 voters

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Community Reviews

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The Wild Swans is a short story by Hans Christian Andersen, which was first published in 1838. It is one of his earliest and longest stories, and very involved. Ostensibly it is about a princess who rescues her eleven brothers from a spell cast by an evil queen. There are obvious themes of loyalty, trust, and hoping almost beyond hope. However, there is evidently an additional subtext. The underlying message is a religious one about virtue and self-sacrifice.

As it is a fairy story, none of the p
Vaishali Joglekar
An enchanting, progressive fairytale. A few plot holes are completely swept over by amazing imagery; Andersen is a master story-teller. His protagonist is a phenomenal hero: she persistently follows her dream, reframes the bad into positivity, and completes work against impossible odds.

An excerpt :
"Lonely as it was on the sea-shore, she did not observe it, for the ever-moving sea showed more changes in a few hours than the most varying lake could produce during a whole year. If a black heavy cl
jo mo
Aug 17, 2012 jo mo marked it as to-read
one of yvonne gilbert's illustrations (not sure if it's included in the wild swans though) ..

Lexxie (un)Conventional Bookviews
Feb 20, 2012 Lexxie (un)Conventional Bookviews rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
This was one of my favourite fairytales when I was little! The evil step-mother strikes again, but children turn out to be smarter and better than her :)
Mekenna Price
Sep 18, 2014 Mekenna Price rated it it was amazing
I have only heard of this story. I read Cloaked by Alex Flinn, which was a new, modern twist on fairy tales. The swans and their sister had a little part in that book. Reading the real version did not sway my appreciation for what the story stands for. This tale shows a sister who is willing to do anything to get her family back. That is a great example for children who are sometimes feeling like they "hate" their family. Also, the artwork in this particular book had me interested even when I on ...more
Jan 29, 2014 Rebekah rated it really liked it
This was a translation done by Naomi Lewis of Hans Christian Anderson story. Lovely done and the pictures are nicely done.

I grew up and love Hans Christian Anderson stories and sometimes you just need a break from life and go back to something comforting. This is a great story about the bonds of family and what you would be willing to sacrifice for siblings. The sister faces pain and even death to save her brothers but in the end is willing to save them and her own life.
Lisa Rathbun
Aug 11, 2011 Lisa Rathbun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This Hans Christian Anderson tale was in my 2nd grade reading anthology, and it truly captured my imagination. The wickedness of the evil queen, and the love and dedication and self-sacrifice of the princess even to the point of death really spoke to me. This version of the story is absolutely beautiful!!!! I love the gorgeous pictures - they are exquisite.

There were a couple changes to other versions of this story that I've read. I don't remember the fairy Morgana being in the story. Also in s
Marcia Brown's illustrations are beautiful in this book. I've looked at several of her picture books for a paper I wrote about her in my children's literature class toward my MLIS. I think I prefer her painting to her woodblock printing. She won a Caldecott medal for Cinderella, but I like her Wild Swans better. Since the illustrations are so poignant and represent the story so well, I was very surprised to find out that it's out of print--it wasn't even on Goodreads and I had to add it.

The king
Dec 29, 2014 Christina rated it really liked it
Although a classic Andersen fairy tale, this story about a princess who must weave eleven shirts from nettles to save her brothers, whom an evil stepmother had turned to swans, was new to me. The illustrations of the beautiful princess and her soaring swan brothers were intricate and elegant. Kids who like Snow White, Cinderella, and other stories with evil queens should like this one, too.
Ella Lancaster
Sep 10, 2014 Ella Lancaster rated it really liked it
I loved reading this when I was about 9 or 10. In fact, I liked it so much that I wrote the summarised version and drew my own illustration of Elisa with her brothers by hand in a DIY notebook. It was one of those rare times in fairytales when the princess saves the day/her brothers. I just loved how unprecedented the story was to me as a kid. Officially one of my favourite fairytales. :-)
Emma Eronson
Jun 24, 2015 Emma Eronson rated it really liked it
Shelves: barn-ung
Underbar saga om tolv syskon och en elak styvmor. HOn förvandlar pojkarna till svanar och dottern fördriver hon från slottet. För att hennes bröder ska slippa förbannelsen måste prinsessan sticka pansarskjortor av nässeltråd.
Jul 17, 2012 Katsumi rated it liked it
Shelves: fairy-tales
In the mid-1800s, Andersen wrote many original fairy tales. He has many common themes however to the stories that had been passed down for generations. This story is of a young girl sent away by her evil stepmother. She then must rescue her eleven brothers from the spell that has been placed upon them. In a dream, a fairy came to her and gave her the answer. So after, a king falls in love with her at first sight. This tale is a bit lengthy and has a few passages of irrelevant information, but be ...more
Oct 07, 2014 Yvette rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
An intriguing story that later fairy tales seem to have borrowed from (The Swan Princess springs to mind!). The illustrations in this edition are SO BEAUTIFUL! For that I will cherish the book!
Aug 19, 2014 Valentina rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reto-sorpresa
Este cuentos es muuuuy parecido a "Los seis cisnes" de los hermanos Grimm, pero me gusto mucho más este, me pareció muy completo y con un mejor desarrollo de las situaciones.
Tabbitha Lindsley
Dec 30, 2015 Tabbitha Lindsley rated it really liked it
This is one of my favorite fairytales in which the girl comes to save the day. It shows what lengths one will go to in order to save her family.
Leslie Jonsson
Mar 24, 2016 Leslie Jonsson rated it it was amazing
Riveting illustrations make this retelling of a relatively unknown Hans Christian Anderson story unique and readable.
Dec 27, 2015 Amber rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
Feb 16, 2012 Earl rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, kids
When I first saw "The Wild Swans" in the children's book section, I didn't know what it was. Cased in a beautifully illustrated box (by Thomas Aquinas Maguire), I thought it was a misplaced gift item. It didn't help when I opened it and all I saw was the seemingly endless accordion-booklet of wordless illustrations. Luckily, I saw the little booklet and took some time to read the Hans Christian Andersen adapted fairy tale.
Jun 20, 2007 علی rated it it was ok
Shelves: children-books
I could never imagine that there comes a day in my life when I read H.C.Andersen in his own language! As I nver dreamed about living in Denmark. But all these happened, and I tried to read some of Andersen's works in Danish, well, let's say Old Danish, which is different. Now I know a bit about Danish culture as well, so I would say Andersen has more dimensions than I imagined him in Persian.
Jun 16, 2011 Katherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I remember being given this book for Christmas. I loved it. It became one of my favorite stories, and I love the illustrations in this edition. When I went walking in Ireland many years later, I was thrilled to find real stinging nettles like in the book and was half tempted to collect them to see if they could actually be formed into thread.
Elizabeth Root
Oct 20, 2010 Elizabeth Root rated it liked it
Shelves: traditional-text
The princess sets out to find her brothers who have not been in her life. As she discovers they are bewitched, she goes above and beyond to set them free. I would use this story as another form of exposure to students. This story is not one I had picked up before.
Mabel Geronimo
Apr 24, 2014 Mabel Geronimo rated it it was amazing
This books is more of a lesson of perseverance. It show us true and familiar love. Although I would have liked to read the father and the stepmother got a well-deserved punishment; life is exactly that way. We don't always get what we want or deserve.
Oct 09, 2007 Ida rated it it was amazing
not the same illustrated version I have (mine is by Susan Jeffers circa early 80s and outrageously beautiful) but I love this fairy tale. I really return to it as a center of personal mythology over and over again especially in my work. xoxoxo
Mar 27, 2013 Rebecca rated it liked it
Shelves: sonlight-p3-4
Seems to be a fairy tale that isn't very well known. I like that the princess perseveres in order to save her brothers and has a happy ending. The illustrations seem to show all of the children about the same age, which is kinda weird.
Dec 06, 2013 Brenda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a cute story, but the ending left some un-answered questions, like did the brothers return to their kingdom and get revenge on there evil witch of a step-mother?
Sam Grace
Nov 16, 2009 Sam Grace rated it really liked it
Recommended to Sam by: Abigail A.
Barefoot Books strikes again. I have yet to disappointed with something by these publishers.

The story is, of course, wonderful, and I enjoyed the beautiful artwork.
Rundle Family
Jun 20, 2012 Rundle Family rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maddie: Elisa, there's a princess and her name's Elisa, and she has 11 brothers and there's a fairy and swans and the girl is beautiful.

Apr 29, 2013 Fernando rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Es de mis cuentos favoritos y para ser un clásico, es una hermosa edición con preciosas ilustraciones :)
Lorena Martínez
Nov 06, 2013 Lorena Martínez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Esta edición está muy linda, sobre todo por las ilustraciones. Este es uno de mis cuentos favoritos.
Jul 29, 2011 Lena rated it liked it
Another classic I hadn't read before. Good story about enduring family love and sacrifice.
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Hans Christian Andersen (often referred to in Scandinavia as H. C. Andersen; April 2, 1805 – August 4, 1875) was a Danish author and poet. Although a prolific writer of plays, travelogues, novels, and poems, Andersen is best remembered for his fairy tales. Andersen's popularity is not limited to children; his stories—called eventyr, or "fairy-tales"—express themes that transcend age and nationalit ...more
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