The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

littlemermaidReview of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

I’m sure you are familiar enough with the Disney version of The Little Mermaid, and at least suspect that the original story doesn’t match the screen version. This is certainly the case here, as I explore more and more of the original versions of fairy tales I wonder how we switched gears and grew up with a childhood of loving these tales, that while they had element of evil all ended well, because the originals are all so much darker. Andersen’s original tale for our little mermaid girl is anything but happy, her longing to know the world above the ocean is filled with years of waiting to become old enough to be allowed to surface. These years allowed her to create a fantasy world in her mind that intensifies on the day of her first spectacular view of the human’s world. Her desire to live among the humans cause her to make a drastic choice of losing parts of herself to achieve this dream. The daily pain from this choice is never rewarded by the one thing she scarified it all for. Happy ending? No, not in this version.

Even though the story isn’t whimsical and doesn’t have that fluffy happiness that we tend to equate to fairy tales I still enjoyed this tale. I imagine as a child, I wouldn’t have understood the true cost of her sacrifice and been saddened by the ending, but as an adult we can appreciate that life isn’t sugar coated. The cost of achieving a goal can, at times, be great and sometime we still fail, but more importantly did we gain something along the way?

I read a version illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger, best known for her illustrations of classics ranging from The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland and The Nutcracker. Her illustrations in this edition as whimsical in nature.


Image from edition read as described and linked below by Lisbeth Zwerger

Author Bio:

Hans Christian Andersen, a prolific Danish writer wrote poetry, novels and travelogues, but is best known for his fairy tales. His fairy tales have been translated in over 125 languages and have been the inspiration behind plays, movies and ballets.

Andersen’s other works include:

The Ugly Duckling Follow the journey of an awkward duckling as it maneuvers the obstacles in life awaiting to become a beautiful swan.

The Emperor’s New Clothes – Does a pair of weavers deliver on a suit for the king that is said to only be visible to those worthy of their position?

I would suggest grabbing a copy of the lovely Norton edition of The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen which contains 24 tales and over 150 glorious illustrations.

Misc. Review Details:

Title: The Little Mermaid
Author: Hans Christian Andersen
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group (2004)
Source: Public Library
Format Read: Hardcover
Genres/Subjects: Fairy Tales, Children’s, Picture Books


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2 Responses to The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen

  1. amanda says:

    I did not like The Little Mermaid when I read it as a child; I just couldn’t like the “unhappy” ending. Now, I can recognize it as more poignant and meaningful than I did then. but it does make you wonder just who Anderson was writing for. I’ve heard that fairy tales haven’t always been meant for kids…

  2. Pingback: Mid Month for Children’s Lit | Simpler Pastimes

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