The Snow Queen

The Snow Queen
retold by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Laura Barrett
Orchard Books

Like everything else she writes, award-winning author, Geraldine McCaughrean’s retelling of the Hans Christian Andersen classic tale is simply stupendous: the way she uses words herein is sheer enchantment: ‘From that moment, Kai was full of goblin mischief … and empty of joy. … And when in the market square, he saw the beautiful lady again, in her curlicue silver sleigh, he just climbed in beside her. Had to. Something made him. A magic bigger than mischief.’

That’s when Kai disappears in the company of the wicked Snow Queen and thus begins the search for Gerda’s dearest friend.

During her search Gerda encounters a kindly witch, a clever crow, a prince and princess,

a den of robbers and in particular a Robber Girl. It’s the latter who gives her a pet reindeer to ride.

At the top of the world she comes to a house wherein dwells a wise woman who knows the way to the palace of the Snow Queen. This woman urges Gerda to find courage and sends her on her way.

And find Kai she does, once the Snow Queen has departed leaving him with a puzzle to solve, but convinced he’ll fail.

However with Gerda at his side, a word takes shape …

and then it’s time to flee for their lives, Gerda, Kai and two brave reindeer …

Geraldine’s out of this world telling has the perfect illustrator in Laura Barrett. Putting me in mind rather of Lotte Reiniger and Jan Pieńkowski’s work, her silhouette illustrations are incredibly beautiful.

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