Friday Review: American Fairy Tales: From Rip Van Winkle to The Rootabaga Stories (Compiled) by Neil Philip

American Fairy Tales: From Rip Van Winkle to the Rootabaga StoriesAmerican Fairy Tales: From Rip Van Winkle to the Rootabaga Stories by Neil Philip
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twelve stories penned by American authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, Washington Irving, Carl Sandburg, and others. The stories are all uniquely American in some way, and many depart from the familiar European style fairy tale of the likes of the Brothers Grimm. There is a preface that gives a summation of the growth of American fairy tales (written by Alison Lurie), and each tale is prefaced by a short biographical piece on the author. Illustrations by Michael McCurdy are black-and-white ink drawings. An afterword by Philip puts the stories into a historical framework.

It might surprise some people to learn that there are American fairy tales. Most people equate fairy tales with the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson, and other European storytellers. But there is a tradition of American tales that, while not necessarily involving fairies or monsters in the usual sense, do fall into the general category of fairy tales, or, perhaps more precisely, folk tales. This book gathers twelve of those stories into one volume, and is a nice collection for anyone interested in folk tales and lore of any background. Some of these stories and authors are familiar: Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle”, for example. Some are less familiar: Frank Stockton’s “The Bee-man of Orn” or Howard Pyle’s “The Apple of Contentment”. And some may be surprised that the likes of Louisa May Alcott and Carl Sandburg wrote fairy tales.

As for the stories themselves, they run the gamut from those that hold close to the European traditional fairy tale format with American settings and characters, to those that are more unique to their country of origin. Some of the truly American tales utilize the language and colloquial American dialect, or draw on very American superstitions and beliefs, or silly and nonsensical words and phrases. Some may be a bit difficult to read, especially the older ones where the language is more old-fashioned and Colonial. They are all valuable to anyone interested in folk tales and especially to we Americans. The more scholarly parts, in the introductions to each story and the afterword, help to put the whole collection in its historical place.

This book is both a study of American storytelling which will be valued by anyone interested in the development of American literature, and an entertaining set of tales that can easily fit in the fairy tale class.

View all my reviews

View all my reviews

Available now:

tn_Circle Unbroken Cover (eBook)

After five years away, Kaili is coming home for the ceremony to install her sister as head of the family business. When an old rivalry threatens the family, Kaili and her partner need to use all their skills to save the sisters’ lives. Learn more here.




tn_Six of One

A collection of six short fantasy stories set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Learn more here.




tn_Survival of the Fittest (Front Cover)

A short novelette set in a dystopian Earth after the final environmental collapse. Sam is a genetically engineered chameleon who may hold the key to mankind’s survival. Learn more here.




In a world reeling under the effects of severe climate change, food shortages are common, and arable farmland is scarce. Unscupulous distributors like Beni Oligowma take advantage of the shortages for their own gain. When a promising new technology for growing food even under the harsh conditions is unveiled, grocery store owner Frank is determined to see that everyone is able to benefit from the results, not just the Benis of the world.
Feed My People is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free. Learn more here



Demon hunters Johnny and Cerise travel to the small town of Carroll Fork where they find a demon-possessed thrift store, a sweet old lady who is more than she seems, and an army of underworld inhabitants. Can Johnny and his trusty yo-yo save the town from a devil of a problem?

Five and Daemon is a short novelette in an urban fantasy setting, with elements of the supernatural and humor. It is free to download.
Learn more here

One thought on “Friday Review: American Fairy Tales: From Rip Van Winkle to The Rootabaga Stories (Compiled) by Neil Philip

Comments are closed.