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Since being wiped out in the 14th century by the Black Death, the village of Astercote has been overgrown by forest, but its past still haunts the local Cotswold folk. Soon, villagers fall ill, crosses are marked on the doors and the modern village is taken over by a medieval consciousness. Astercote village is dead, its ruins lie hidden in the murky wood. Mair and her brother, Peter, come upon the deserted village by accident and there meet a youth who tells how the village was destroyed by the Black Death. They also learn of a long-guarded secret, and they are caught up in a superstitious fear as strange events unfold.
This enchanting collection, retold by writer and critic Naomi Lewis, contains twelve of Hans Christian Andersen's magnificent stories. It includes Thumbelina, a little girl no more than a thumb-joint high, The Emperor's New Clothes , the tale of a man who cares only for his appearance and The Little Mermaid, who longs to one day marry a human prince.
September 2011 Guest Editor David Almond: "I still remember the moment I pulled this book from my Christmas stocking. I was seduced straight away by Lotte Reiniger’s wonderful austere illustrations, by Green’s magical prose, and by Arthur himself, an ordinary-seeming kid who sets the miraculous in motion by pulling the sword from the stone in such an offhand way. Wondrous stuff soon follows: earth-shattering battles, glimpses of Heaven, damsels in distress, enchanted knights, dragons, love, desire, treachery and sin. Bloody accounts of limbs being hacked off sit side-by-side with haunting descriptions of magic and miracle. The language is heightened, as it should be, but it never impedes the progress of these wonderful old tales." - Please note that this edition is illustrated by Aubrey Beardsley.