East of the Sun & West of the Moon (Part 2)

By Mercer Mayer

Welcome to part 2! For part 1, please go here.

This is the version of East of the Sun & West of the Moon that I have the most trouble with. Several of the key themes are missing, most notably the polar bear. Instead this one plays like a mash-up of The Princess and the Frog and East of the Sun West of the Moon.

After the beginning of the story has ended, however, we veer back into more recognizable territory. She sets out, getting help from various supernatural beings who guide her closer to the kingdom she seeks, and each offer her a gift that will help her save her love.

The biggest positive I can give this version is its artwork, which is gorgeous, and comparable to Gal’s. It reflects the setting well, even if the setting isn’t how I would like it. The details are perfect, with heavy lines and excellent colours.

Suggested Ages: 3-7

Mayer, M. (1980). East of the Sun & West of the Moon. Four Winds Press.

****

The second telling of East of the Sun & West of the Moon we will be examining was written by Mercer Mayer, and tells a vastly different version of this Scandinavian tale.

In Mayer’s version, the heroine is a the only daughter of a couple. They are well-off until the king goes to war and they are left destitute. The husband falls ill, and the wife sends her daughter to the Spring of the South Wind to fetch water that will cure him. There, the daughter finds a dirty pool and a frog. She drops the cup into the water and he offers to get it for her in return for three wishes granted. He agrees, and fetches the cup for her. The wishes go as you might expect; he comes home with her, and asks her to marry him. She refuses him and, in breaking most motifs that I am familiar with, throws the frog against the wall and kills him. This releases him into his form of a young man and he is snatched up by the trolls and taken away, leaving it up to her to follow and rescue him.

This is the version of East of the Sun & West of the Moon that I have the most trouble with. Several of the key themes are missing, most notably the polar bear. Instead this one plays like a mash-up of The Princess and the Frog and East of the Sun West of the Moon. Her family is shrunk in significance and exist only paint a backdrop for her fortunes.

After the beginning of the story has ended, however, we veer back into more recognizable territory. She sets out, getting help from various supernatural beings who guide her closer to the kingdom she seeks, and each offer her a gift that will help her save her youth. The wind is once again present as a major supporter, and the trolls reprise their role of captors. At the end, the heroine and the youth (not a prince this time), are married and rule the kingdom.

There are a few reasons why this version is my least favorite. First is for the Princess and the Frog flavour at the beginning, which belongs to a different story. Then there is the utter lack of motivation on her part to go through such extremes to help the youth. For certain she got him into this mess, but she also killed him without thought while he was a frog. Unlike the other versions where there is a marriage and a relationship to bind them, this story offers no connection between the heroine and the youth aside from the connection the helpers declare they feel between the two.

The biggest positive I can give this version is its artwork, which is gorgeous, and comparable to Gal’s. It reflects the setting well, even if the setting isn’t how I would like it. The details are perfect, with heavy lines and excellent colours. This, however, does not help the story. Some retellings are, by nature, very different from their source material. In the case of this book, however, I find that it is an unnecessary deviation that adds nothing to the story. If, on the flip side, you are a fan of storytale mashups, then this is the story for you!

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: East of the Sun & West of the Moon (Part 3) « dearassalt
  2. Trackback: East of the Sun & West of the Moon (Part 4) « dearassalt

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