Kage Baker loved the Coloured Fairy Tale books.
We all did. Those venerable collections by Andrew Lang were one of the great delights of childhood; we all went through all of them with great absorption and pleasure. They remained favourites, even as we all found our ways to tales for older kids … but, you know, Sue Barton and Nancy Drew and all those other modern misses recommended as our role models couldn’t hold a candle to the adventure, magic, romance and sheer unexpurgated gore of the classic fairy stories.
Kage took very early to pirate stories, of course, and then The Odyssey, The Iliad and various histories; I somehow found my way via Freddy the Pig and science fiction into anatomy and the biological sciences. Anne and Kimberly just kind of dug their heels in and went on stubbornly reading the Andrew Lang volumes – it was easy for them to duck back into the stacks, as it were, and read what they wanted while Kage and I were alarming the librarians by being caught with The Decameron and The Golden Bough.
Somewhere along the way, though that palette of fantasy just vanished from the shelves. I remember looking for them when Kage and I, in our 20’s, had stopped in at the Ivar Branch to avail ourselves of their water fountains and bathrooms on a hot July day. Couldn’t find a one. We mourned them.
But! Technology is indeed the friend of the antiquarian, at least the kind that wants to preserve things. Today, I bought a Kindle – and in perusing the enormous, fascinating miscellany of e-books on Amazon, I found them. The Coloured Fairy Tale Books. All twelve of them. Uncondensed, un-Bowdlerized. In one volume.
The cosmic injustice of this insanely low price is balanced out for me by the intensely personal joy that they’re cheap and I can get them all: Blue, Red, Green, Yellow, Pink, Grey, Violet, Crimson, Brown, Orange, Olive, and Lilac. They were the first thing I downloaded. Mine! Mine at last! Well, and Kimberly, with whom I will still have to compete for the goodies – but she, like Kage, is utterly diurnal and will go to bed hours before I do!
Thank you to all of you who sent me advice on which device to buy. All the information was useful, especially the part about going out and actually handling the machines before I made up my mind. That was what decided me on the nunlike little Kindle: demure, Quakerish, nothing much to distract from the written word. I like it a lot.
And now, Dear Readers, I am retiring with my new toy and my old books to enjoy myself. The Hill of Glass is in there somewhere …