Once upon a time, two Henry Holt board books arrived in our office. Cinderella and Snow White (October 2012) are part of the new Les Petits Fairytales series written by Trixie Belle and Melissa Caruso-Scott and illustrated by Oliver Lake. These minimalist texts (with one- or two-word explanations of each image) read like concept books, but don’t include the typical “ball” or “cat” vocabulary. Instead, they introduce unusual and complex words such as “carriage” and “dwarves.” Toddlers will certainly need assistance from adults to learn these words — and to understand how these disparate concepts fit together to tell a story. These books provide something valuable: an opportunity for interactive storytelling between adults and children.
Like Jennifer Adam and Alison Oliver’s BabyLit series, Les Petits Fairytales maintain that it’s never too early to introduce readers to the classics. Some might argue that these series are meant more for book-loving adults than children. The BabyLit books are pure concept books, exploring colors, numbers, and other primary concepts in the framework of classic stories (such as Pride & Prejudice and Moby-Dick). Even with this classic-lit context, the books don’t make much linear storytelling sense. Unlike the BabyLit titles, however, Les Petits Fairytales can be read as concept and story books and encourage child/adult interaction while introducing new concepts. In this way, I find the Les Petits Fairytales series is geared less towards literary-leaning parents and more towards the intended child audience.
I first fell for these books because of my love of all things fairy tale, but I appreciate them more after realizing what they have to offer beyond the cute gimmick. In addition to the books’ emphasis on interactivity, the glittery covers provide a nice touch-and-feel aspect, the bright colors are eye-catching, and the toddler-sized characters are relatable. I was pleased to discover that four more entries (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty) will be added in early May. I hope these new books live up to their predecessors.
What do you think of the Les Petits Fairytales series? Has anyone tried reading them with young children?