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East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North
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East of the Sun and West of the Moon: Old Tales from the North

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  645 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
The 33 Scandinavian folk tales take the imagination of the reader from rags to riches, from skulduggery to heroism, via witches' curses, beautiful princesses, giants, quests, billy goats and the occasional wicked troll, to a happy ending.
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 10th 2008 by Calla Editions
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,810)
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Mel
Nov 27, 2012 Mel rated it it was amazing
Shelves: art, folktale, childrens
This book is a reproduction of the one issued in the 1920s with illustrations by Kay Nielson. It might possibly be the most beautiful book I own. The pages are so thick, they are almost printed on card stock rather than paper. It is simply beautifully put together and the illustrations are amazing, both the black and white images in the text and the full colour plates. The stories are wonderful tales most of which I'd not heard before. I liked the fact that the first one starts with a girl going ...more
Karen Margrethe
Apr 01, 2015 Karen Margrethe rated it it was amazing
I remember as a child, growing up in Scandinavia, hearing the fairy tales gathered in this book. With Kay Nielsen's mesmerizing illustrations, you get lost in what seems like an epic yet tragic beautiful fairy tale universe which represents values of a lost time.
The themes with the humble animals and wonders of the woods, trolls and other fantastic creatures captivate a feeling of balance and power in nature. That combined with the theme of the loved one you will seek and fight for, makes a powe
...more
Sarah Schanze
Interesting collection of fairy tales. Probably the best one was the titular story, East of the Sun and West of the Moon. The others were good, but repetitive and typical fairy tale fare. There weren't many stories that had a girl protagonist, and one of them was the only story in here I absolutely hated: The Lassie and her Godmother. That had the worst ending, and the only moral I can think it had was "if you're beautiful and mute, good things will happen to you." Very bad message for little gi ...more
Gilded Locks
Oct 02, 2011 Gilded Locks rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Nielsen's illustrations in this are, of course, breathtaking. The fairy tales are certainly entertaining, but can be at times rather convoluted and odd; what you'd expect, considering their age, and a wonderful insight into fairy tales of a different time period. Also, the book itself is beautiful; thick, smooth paper, innumerable black-and-white illustrations in addition to the gorgeous color plates- even someone unfamiliar with book-construction can tell that they're holding an item of excepti ...more
Tricia
Sep 08, 2014 Tricia rated it liked it
Shelves: around-the-world
It's strange, but the reviews that show up under this title seem to be about a variety of different books. The one I'm commenting on is a compilation of Norwegian (Scandinavian?) folk tales. The stories get repetitive after a while - there are quite a few common themes that show up again and again (and again!). The real reason to get this book is to pore over the wonderful luxurious color illustrations by Kay Nielsen. If you are an artist of any variety, you will be inspired!
Laura
Apr 07, 2014 Laura marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda,
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.


He too saw the image in the water; but he looked up at once, and became aware of the lovely Lassie who sate there up in the tree.
Haley
Sep 29, 2013 Haley rated it it was amazing
I bought this book specifically because of Kay Nielsen. Calla Editions know what's on, folks.
Marquise
A charming Nordic folktale, but it was just too similar to Apuleius' "Cupid and Psyche" for me to enjoy. Besides the Wintery setting, the white bear, the Winds and the trolls, the plot is basically the same as in the Greco-Roman myth as to be practically a retelling of it. Now, I adore the original myth a lot, but to date I haven't found either a retelling or a similar tale that I liked as much, and this was no exception. On top, it's much shorter and more simplistic.

Loved Kay Nielsen’s illustra
...more
Katie
Rating: 2/5

Asbjornsen and Moe's collection, illustrated by Kay Nielsen, is full of trolls, cunning heroes, and epic journeys, but also a lot of repetition. The most original stories are the shortest, such as "The Three Billy-Goats Gruff" and "The White Cat of Doverfell", and the title story is the most original of the longer stories. The title story is also the only story that features a woman as the protagonist, while the other stories feature young men, often lazy young men, as protagonists.

Of
...more
Marissa García
Mar 12, 2014 Marissa García rated it liked it
This is an interesting collection of twenty one Norwegian folk and fairy tales that has collaborative history of being translated and edited by various authors over the span of many years. The original tales were collected by Asbjornsen and Moe, translated by George Desent, and finally edited and illustrated by the D’Aulaires. Due to the Victorian translations, there is a definite air of elegance to the telling of the tales, though the D’Aulaires mention that they tried to modernize that some in ...more
Robyn
Dec 31, 2015 Robyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gorgeous illustrations by Kay Nielsen, in Kindle form only really worth getting this version (which cost me one penny on Amazon) if you have a Kindle that shows colour illustrations or a Kindle app for a phone or tablet. On the older generation Kindles the illustrations would be too small, black and white, and basically unintelligible. I'm certain this same collection is available for free for those with the older generation Kindles (if the penny price is too high or you don't want to charge som ...more
Susan
May 29, 2016 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fairy_tales
This particular edition (Forgotten Books) is missing chunks of text and the reproductions of what were originally color plates are low quality. The stories themselves range from well-known (3 Billy Goats Gruff) to more obscure and are worth reading for fans of fairy-tales. I'd just find a different edition.
Patrick
Jun 07, 2016 Patrick rated it really liked it
The 33 Scandinavian folk tales take the imagination of the reader from tatters to treasures, from dishonesty to heroism, via witches' curses, stunning princesses, giants, quests, billy goats and the occasional wicked troll, to a happy ending.
Alger
Aug 17, 2014 Alger rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Delightful and handsome. This mid-20th century reprint omits the grimmer stories and shortens lengthier tales to quicken the pace. The changes are usually limited to abridging repetitions, since folk tales in general, and 19th century collectors of folk tales in particular, often repeat the action in triplicate. In person this is charming, especially when telling tales to children who enjoy the familiar. In print however, the threefold repetition can be tedious, and so the shorter versions are a ...more
Meri
Jun 29, 2016 Meri rated it it was amazing
Illustrator Kay Nielsen have been my favorite since I was a child and had the book Twelve Dancing Princesses (In Powder and Crinoline in Europe) with his illustrations. I treasure these books.
Thabata
Nov 25, 2015 Thabata rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This was my first interaction with northern tales, and I found it utterly fascinating. It is a great book for adults and children alike, even though some pieces could be considered "violent" as trolls are slain and such.
But the best part of the book for me are Kay Nielsen's illustrations. They are truly fantastic and lend a whole different color to the tales. Worth just for them.
Caitlin
Oct 21, 2013 Caitlin rated it liked it
Some of these 15 Scandinavian fairy tales might seem familiar to readers--many have been re-imagined or retold. And several of them are repetitive, slightly different versions of the same story, or containing some of the same elements. But fairy tales from pretty much any country have similar roots, so it's not surprising.

So perhaps read one or two at a time, with breaks in between. Expect a little weirdness, too. These are the kinds of original fairy tales, the ones that are sometimes a little
...more
Mary Zemina
An interesting collection of old Scandinavian fairy tales. My favorite was definitely East of the Sun, West of the Moon. It was one of the more original of the tales in this book--many of them were so similar to each other they might was well have been the same story. But my second favorite was "The Cat of Dovrefell," about a man who caught a polar bear and stayed overnight in a cottage in the woods, which was overrun with trolls every Christmas Eve, who thought the bear was a cat and were so af ...more
Hope
Apr 18, 2016 Hope rated it really liked it
My mother read these fairy tales to us in the 1960s and I was happy to find them to read to my own children.
Whitney
Feb 17, 2015 Whitney rated it really liked it
A great book of tales. Yes, it does get repetitive, but it's helpful to remember the context in which these stories were once told...old tales tend to be repetitive to make them easy to tell from memory and passed down through the generations. You will notice that most tropes occur in threes. Most old fairy tales follow this formula for that reason.

I feel that Kay Nielsen's drawings are just as if now more important than the stories themselves and this book is worth reading just to appreciate hi
...more
Angela
May 28, 2012 Angela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
This is a fun, beautifully illustrated compilation of Norse fairy tales. The book was first published in 1920 and like many older or mythology books, it is sparse in detail. What I found fascinating is these fairy tales, while old, we're amended after Christianity took hold. The ends seemed changed to add a Christian moral or character to the story. This made the stories all the more interesting because of the history behind them. My favorite stories are those where the guy wins the pretty girl ...more
Kate
Sep 24, 2012 Kate rated it liked it
Shelves: books
I thought these would be more mythological tales rather than fairy tales, so that was a surprise--but there's never a bad time to read fairy tales, so it worked out.

Besides, this book wound up on my "to read" list because of it was on Flavorwire's 20 Most Beautiful Children's Books of All Time list, and it most certainly did not disappoint on that angle. Nielsen's illustrations were gorgeous.
Jaimie
Dec 25, 2013 Jaimie rated it it was amazing
Classic Norweigian folktales are illustrated by Nielsen's carefully composed line and wash drawings with much success. Nielsen clearly draws inspiration from Aubrey Beardsley, Arthur Rackham, and Japanese woodcut printers, but makes his own unique style from the careful use of colour and shading. For such simplistic compositions, Nielsen imbues them with a wonderful sense of movement, which is what gives his pieces a flare that earns him a place alongside the greatest illustrators of his age.
Yuri Lam
Sep 26, 2014 Yuri Lam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has been on my bookshelf since my childhood, though it was a Japanese version. Since young, I was fascinated by the old Norse stories and mesmerized by Kay Nielsen's artworks. As far as I remember, this book was one of the very first books I got myself when I went to UK, though that one was Wordsworth Children Classic and had Kay Nielsen's artword only for its cover. I just love this book, and re-live the very fascination by re-reading it over and over again.
Rob Natiuk
Dec 09, 2015 Rob Natiuk rated it it was amazing
Shelves: traditional
Just the right number of right-on beautiful illustrations by Kay Nielsen. Some books overdo the pictures and that takes away from one's imagination. I've always loved Fairy Tales and when they're faithfully reproduced from the originals, they're always 5-stars with me! Of course, even though some are rather weird for today's culture, they're still better than most horror-fantasy we have from today's publishers.
Danielle
Oct 22, 2012 Danielle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read an edition illustrated by Kay Nielsen. Goodness. I've never seen such beautiful illustrations before. I've seen people describe them as "haunting" and that does seem apt. They have a touching, tragic beauty to them. Anyway, the stories themselves are really good - engaging and new to me, for the most part, which was nice considering I've read a good deal of folk and fairy tales over the years.
John Mellby
Jan 20, 2015 John Mellby rated it it was amazing
This is a brilliant book of folk tales.
Some of these have hints of folk tales from other cultures but
with a little different slant. And that brings a lovely flavor to the tales.
Additionally Kay Neilson's illustrations are magnificent and
add immensely to the book.
Beware, though, that the tales are not sugar-coated for children.
There are deaths and brutality, even by the good guys.
Rhanda
Dec 28, 2013 Rhanda rated it really liked it
A wonderful selection of Scandinavian fairy tales with gorgeous illustrations -- both black-and-white drawings and full-color illustration plates -- by Kay Nielsen. Your mileage will vary based on how much you enjoy fairy tales in general, but I really enjoyed these simple magical stories and was previously unfamiliar with the majority of them. Highly recommended for fans of the genre.
Sid
Feb 22, 2015 Sid rated it liked it
I bought this partly for the beautiful old illustrations and partly because I'm interested in Scandi fairy tales.

The stories are of their age and are pretty odd by modern standards - not that that's a bad thing, I'm finding that they're not particularly interesting though.

Not one to give to a younger reader, unless they like less cuddly stuff. Stick to the pictures!
Nick
Nov 17, 2010 Nick rated it it was amazing
I first read this beautiful book in my grandmother's house when I was about 8; its stunning illustrations and occasionally savage fairy tales captivated me completely. Every household with children in it -- or visiting -- should have a copy of this book. It is an extraordinary example of bookmaking, illustration, and storytelling.
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Peter Christen Asbjørnsen was a Norwegian writer and scholar. He and Jørgen Engebretsen Moe were collectors of Norwegian folklore. They were so closely united in their lives' work that their folk tale collections are commonly mentioned only as "Asbjørnsen and Moe".
More about Peter Christen Asbjørnsen...

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“A great White Bear waits outside. He has faithfully promised to make us all rich if he can but have our youngest daughter.” 2 likes
“A great White Bear waits outside. He has faithfully promised to make us all rich if he can but have our youngest daughter.” 2 likes
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