PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.

Books

Hans Christian Andersen Would Be Delighted With Sanna Annukka's Illustrations

Annukka enhances the reading experience of The Snow Queen and The Fir Tree with her distinctive artistic approach.


The Snow Queen

Publisher: Ten Speed Press
ISBN: 978-0-399-57850-2
Contributors: Sanna Annukka, Jean Hersholt
Author: Hans Christian Andersen
Price: $16.00
Format: Hardcover
Length: 88 pages
US Publication Date: 2016-10
UK Publication Date: 2016-10
Amazon

The Fir Tree

Publisher: Ten Speed Press
ISBN: 978-0-399-57848-9
Contributors: Sanna Annukka, Tiina Nunnally
Author: Hans Christian Andersen
Price: $16.00
Format: Hardcover
Length: 48 pages
US Publication Date: 2016-10
UK Publication Date: 2016-10
Amazon

When Walt Disney passed away in 1966, he left behind a healthy stash of feature film ideas that never quite got off the ground. Animator and film director John Lasseter was given an unprecedented amount of access to this secret stash when he returned to the Disney Company in 2006. One of the ideas that Lasseter felt held promise for an animated feature film was an adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen, a grim and meandering story that was drastically reworked into the Academy Award-winning movie Frozen. If any children or parents sought out The Snow Queen after watching Frozen, they discovered that some movies can be so far divorced from their source material that you wonder why anyone would bother uttering the words "based on" when describing the plot.

Renewed interest is still interest, however -- an idea that British artist Sanna Annukka has seized upon by illustrating two new publications of the Andersen tales The Snow Queen and The Fir Tree. Annukka has a distinct style of matting and printing, one that has carried her reputation far and wide around the world. The simple shapes she weaves together to accompany these two stories is heavily reminiscent of her Finnish heritage. In both hardbacks, her miniature biography states that she "spent her childhood summers in Finland, and its landscape and folklore remain a source of inspiration." Andersen may have lived and worked in Denmark, but Annukka understands that his tales cater to no particular nationality. The illustrations she conjures perfectly capture a combination of folkloric images and mythical mystery, the perfect reflection of these twisted tales.

Her layout and execution for The Snow Queen was probably the most challenging task of the two. Working off a recent translation by Jean Hersholt, Andersen's jumpy narrative takes the story from one action to the next in a very short span of time. Between two pages of text, six or seven things can happen to the characters, forcing Annukka to choose which aspect of the story to portray on the corresponding page (a majority of the images fill up the odd-numbered 9" by 4.5" pages). The Snow Queen is also Andersen's lengthiest fairy tale, another aspect that yet again forces Annukka to judge when to illustrate and when to let the text do the talking. The Fir Tree, on the other hand, is roughly half the length of The Snow Queen, and its singular storyline likely made Annukka's job much easier. The two books could have easily been combined into one volume, but the colored cloth wrapped around the hardcovers is a nice touch. I don't need to tell you which one is blue and which one is green.

The Fir Tree has a very straightforward message within its story: live in the moment. The story follows a solitary fir tree from its youth to its ashes. Along the way, the tree is always looking forward to the next phase of its life or is wishing to go back to a previous phase. When older trees are chopped down and hauled away, the younger fir tree longs for the same fate. When it is eventually chopped down for a family's yuletide purposes, it misses the outdoors. When it's taken to the family's attic after Christmas, it misses being a beloved Christmas tree. After rotting for an extended period of time in the family's attic, it's dragged outside and burned. Hans Christian Andersen gets the point across as directly as he can without saying it outright.

The Snow Queen, on the other hand, is about as convoluted as a good-versus-evil fairy tale can get. The story is less about the title queen and her magical powers than it is a story about the friendship between two young children. Kay, the boy, and Gerda, the girl, live very close to one another and love to pay each other visits while admiring the roses. Things go bad for the happy playmates when a mirror shatters from the heavens. This mirror, constructed by the devil, has the ability to reflect back an ugly impression of whatever subject happens to be nearby. Certain pupils of the devil take to the skies with the mirror, determined to show God his own ugly reflection. When the mirror breaks, pieces are scattered everywhere, including in Kay's eye. His mood sours and he loses all interest in being around Gerda. He is instead smitten by the mythical Snow Queen, a spirit that Gerda's grandmother warned the young children all about. He grabs his favorite sled one day and is whisked away from the center of town by the mysterious Snow Queen.

From this point forward, The Snow Queen is about Gerda's bizarre journey to get Kay back. In her travels, she comes across a lady with talking flowers, two married crows, a robber woman whose daughter wants to keep Gerda for a playmate, a reindeer held in captivity, and a prince and princess who supply Gerda with a coach. Rescuing Kay from the Snow Queen is remarkably easy. The danger of the Queen’s powers (killing people with three kisses) is never made out to be that important. Kay and Gerda return home to a happy grandmother who recites a passage from the book of Matthew, stressing the importance of remaining childlike so that one may enter the kingdom of God.

Sanna Annukka's colorful prints provide warm company should you find yourself thrown off track by Andersen's manic-depressive prose. The author and the visual artist may not share the same homeland, but there's still a clear link between author and illustrator present within the pages. From another angle, their relationship could be more of a ying-yang variety than a complimentary one. The image of the Snow Queen that adorns the blue cover has a facial calm that belies the dark elements within, and I'm almost certain that Andersen would be delighted with such a skewed notion.

8

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.


Music

Books

Film

Recent
Music

Johnny Nash Refused to Remember His Place

Johnny Nash, part rock era crooner, part Motown, and part reggae, was too polite for the more militant wing of the Civil Rights movement, but he also suffered at the hands of a racist music industry that wouldn't market him as a Black heartthrob. Through it all he was himself, as he continuously refused to "remember his place".

Music

John Hollenbeck Completes a Trilogy with 'Songs You Like a Lot'

The third (and final?) collaboration between a brilliant jazz composer/arranger, the Frankfurt Radio Big Band, vocalists Kate McGarry and Theo Bleckman, and the post-1950 American pop song. So great that it shivers with joy.

Music

The Return of the Rentals After Six Years Away

The Rentals release a space-themed album, Q36, with one absolute gem of a song.

Music

Matthew Murphy's Post-Wombats Project Sounds a Lot Like the Wombats (And It's a Good Thing)

While UK anxiety-pop auteurs the Wombats are currently hibernating, frontman Matthew "Murph" Murphy goes it alone with a new band, a mess of deprecating new earworms, and revived energy.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 80-61

In this next segment of PopMatters' look back on the music of the 2000s, we examine works by British electronic pioneers, Americana legends, and Armenian metal provocateurs.

Music

In the Tempest's Eye: An Interview with Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood's 2010 debut put them on the map, but their critical sizzle soon faded. After a 2017 comeback of sorts, the group's new record finds them expanding their sonic by revisiting their hometown with a surprising degree of reverence.

Music

Artemis Is the Latest Jazz Supergroup

A Blue Note supergroup happens to be made up of women, exclusively. Artemis is an inconsistent outing, but it dazzles just often enough.

Books

Horrors in the Closet: A Closet Full of Monsters

A closet full of monsters is a scary place where "straight people" can safely negotiate and articulate their fascination and/or dread of "difference" in sexuality.

Music

'Wildflowers & All the Rest' Is Tom Petty's Masterpiece

Wildflowers is a masterpiece because Tom Petty was a good enough songwriter by that point to communicate exactly what was on his mind in the most devastating way possible.

Music

Jazz Composer Maria Schneider Takes on the "Data Lords" in Song

Grammy-winning jazz composer Maria Schneider released Data Lords partly as a reaction to her outrage that streaming music services are harvesting the data of listeners even as they pay musicians so little that creativity is at risk. She speaks with us about the project.

Music

The 100 Best Albums of the 2000s: 100-81

PopMatters' best albums of the 2000s begin with a series of records that span epic metal, ornate indie folk, and a terrifying work of electronic music.

Books

The Power of Restraint in Sophie Yanow, Paco Roca, and Elisa Macellari's New Graphic Novels

The magical quality that makes or breaks a graphic novel lies somewhere in that liminal space in which art and literature intersect.

Books

'People of the City' Is an Unrelenting Critique of Colonial Ideology and Praxis

Cyprian Ekwensi's People of the City is a vivid tale of class struggle and identity reclamation in the shadows of colonialism's reign.

Music

1979's 'This Heat' Remains a Lodestone for Avant-Rock Adventure

On their self-titled debut, available for the first time on digital formats, This Heat delivered an all-time classic stitched together from several years of experiments.

Film

'The Edge of Democracy' and Parallels of Political Crises

Academy Award-nominated documentary The Edge of Democracy, now streaming on Netflix, lays bare the political parallels of the rise of Bolsonaro's Brazil with Trump's America.

Music

The Pogues' 'The BBC Sessions 1984-1986' Honors Working-Class Heroes

The Pogues' BBC Sessions 1984-1986 is a welcome chapter in the musical story of these working-class heroes, who reminded listeners of the beauty and dignity of the strong, sooty backs upon which our industrialized world was built.

Music

Mary Halvorson Creates Cacophony to Aestheticize on 'Artlessly Falling'

Mary Halvorson's Artlessly Falling is a challenging album with tracks comprised of improvisational fragments more than based on compositional theory. Halvorson uses the various elements to aestheticize the confusing world around her.

Music

15 Overlooked and Underrated Albums of the 1990s

With every "Best of the '90s" retrospective comes a predictable list of entries. Here are 15 albums that are often overlooked as worthy of placing in these lists, and are too often underrated as some of the best records from the decade.


Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.