'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Review: The Selfish Giant

When the Giant returns from an extended holiday and discovers the local children playing in his beautiful garden, he chases the children away and builds a strong wall around his garden to keep them out. The garden mourns the loss of the children’s laughter and when spring comes to the town, the plants and trees blossom everywhere except for the giant’s garden, which remains covered in winter snow.

Originally published in 1888 in Oscar Wilde’s first collection of fairytales, The Happy Prince and Other Tales, The Selfish Giant is a lesson in the consequences of selfishness. The Giant discovers that his own choices have brought eternal winter to his home and heart. When he allows the children to once again enjoy his garden, the spring returns and the Giant discovers the happiness that comes from generosity of spirit.

This edition of The Selfish Giant is illustrated with a series of gorgeous, intricate oil paintings by artist Ritva Voutila. The large paintings for the illustrations took more than a year to complete and have a classic feel that perfectly complements the story. My favourites are the impressions of the Snow, Hail, North Wind and Frost when they move into the garden after the children leave and the beautiful blossoming garden when the children return.

The Christian allegory within the story is obvious but, as with most fairytale allegories, this story can simply be appreciated for the moral lesson it offers for those who do not choose to look deeper into the symbolism of the tale. For those who are interested in the Christian allegory, the tale offers parallels to Christian themes of forgiveness, sacrifice and selflessness.

Since it was first published more than 120 years ago, The Selfish Giant has been adapted from print into various forms of art, including opera, ballet and film. This book is a beautiful edition of a classic story that has entertained and instructed children for generations.

Title: The Selfish Giant
Author: Oscar Wilde
Illustrator: Ritva Voutila
Publisher: Allen & Unwin, $29.99 RRP
Publication Date: 29th October 2012
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781742376509
For ages: 6 - 12 years
Type: Picture book, Picture book for older readers