It’s difficult to believe that though we have been writing this blog for five years, I have never mentioned the picture book I loved the most as a child. Most of the picture books I had were purchased at library book sales, but given its publication date (1984), my copy of Saint George and the Dragon was bought new.
I spent hours pouring over the gorgeous, intricate illustrations, more fascinating to me in their beauty than any number of search-and-find picture books; though there was no particular item I was meant to search out, discovering a beetle on a flower in the border of a painting was just as rewarding.
Even at the age of five I was already familiar with most of the common fairy tales (and some of the uncommon ones), so it was a treat to hear a story that was new to me, especially since it was adapted from something that sounded evocative and wonderful: The Fairy Queen. Due no doubt to its exerptation from this longer work, the narrative seems to start after the beginning of the story (helped in this regard by several pages of illustrations before the title page), and stop before the ending, but the incredible depth found in both the text and paintings make it completely satisfying.
This book cemented my love for myths and legends, medieval history and literature, and provided an introduction to medieval illumination in illustrator Trina Schart Hyman’s wonderfully referential artwork. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Posted by: Sarah