Title: Dulcinea in the Forbidden Forest
Author: Ole Könnecke (translated by Shelley Tanaka
Genre: Fairy tale
Publisher: Walker Books/Gecko Press
Published: 8th September 2021
Synopsis: A funny illustrated fairy tale for early readers about the brave and capable Dulcinea, who must save her father from the witch’s spell and get him home to celebrate her birthday.
Dulcinea has known since she was small not to enter the dangerous magic forest where the witch has her castle. But her father hasn’t come home from collecting blueberries for her birthday pancakes. Did the witch cast a spell on him? Dulcinea must brave the dark forest and sneak into the witch’s castle to steal the spell book and free him. Her father would hardly have named her after the brave Dulcinea if she couldn’t break a witch’s spell to celebrate her birthday with him! This is a funny fairy tale for children starting on independent reading, with warm and characterful illustrations and a witty story.
- A brave and capable heroine saves her father
- Funny, characterful, comic-style illustrations in two colours
- Ole Könnecke is a key Gecko Press author and illustrator, whose work has an unerring child’s sensibility
Dulcinea is waiting for her birthday breakfast, and she lives in a world where an evil witch lurks in a castle in a forest – a tall tower with no door, just as many fairytales have, such as Rapunzel. As she waits for her father to return from the forest where he is collecting blueberries for breakfast. When he doesn’t return, she sets out just like a fairytale heroine through the forbidden forest, and towards the witch’s castle to find the spell book and her father so she can break the spell her father is under!
What a delightful book that captures fairytale tropes from the Aarne-Thompson classifications, and pulls them into a timeless tale of witches in towers (Rapunzel), a huntsman (Snow White), curses (Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast and so many more), and plucky young girls determined to save the day – okay, this one is a touch more modern, but if you read the original tales, there are gutsy girls within them such as Gretel from Hansel and Gretel. This delightful Swedish tale takes all of these and creates something unique yet recognisable for all readers but is aimed at newly confident readers aged five and over.
The delight in these modern fairytales lies in their ability to take the themes and tropes we all know from the predecessors of Hans Christian Andersen, Charles Perrault, Countess d’Aulnoy, Charlotte-Rose de la Force, Jeanne-Marie Leprince Beaumont, and Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, amongst many others and combines these with modern elements of girls saving the day, and a gentle story for younger readers. Much like characters such as Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, Dulcinea uses her smarts and thinks on her feet to work out what to do and save her father.
Where it is usually the male figure in the fairytale saving the day – the huntsman, the woodcutter, the handsome prince – here we have a young girl, who just wants to help her father. She has no intention of tricking the witch until she realises what she needs to get – and the story, much like many fairytales, is simply told with a sense of the oral history and tradition that fairytales originated from. This is a beautiful story for readers of all ages to share or read alone, and speaks to a very special relationship between a father and daughter, and the joy that a fairytale can bring to people.