Traditional Tales with Bernadette Watts

h1 December 16th, 2014 by jules

I’ve got my work cut out for me this week and so my time today is limited, but here’s a quick post to share a few spreads from The Bernadette Watts Collections: Stories and Fairy Tales, coming to shelves in an English edition early next year (NorthSouth). If you’re up for some colorful, pastoral art—with some no-holds-barred drama to boot—you’re in the right place today.

Watts, whose fairy tale art is well-known in Europe, was born in England in 1942 and still lives in the UK (and is still creating new stories). This collection of nearly forty previously-published stories, released this year in Switzerland, includes tales from Aesop, Leo Tolstoy, the Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen, and more. The book includes an introduction from Eric Carle, where in part he writes:

Although we have never met, I have been an admirer of Bernadette Watts’s art for a long time. Dominant in her work are the settings. She is a very English illustrator/artist, and her pedigree is unmistakable. That said, in “Varenka” [a story based on a Russian legend] she boldly and with a modern brush employs the vernacular of Russian religious art. …

Her books generally display warm and pleasing colors that bathe each image in an almost theater-like setting: the lights have been dimmed, the curtain has been drawn, and the viewer has settled back, invited into the magic unfolding in Bernadette’s art and stories. …

Watts strikes just about every mood in this collection. She goes from eerie (“Little Red Riding Hood,” originally published in 2009) to sweet (“The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse”) and hits just about every note in between. [Correction on 1/12/15: Little Red Riding Hood was originally published in 1968.]

Here’s a bit more art. (You may notice the text in the English edition differs from the text in these images.)

Until Thursday …


“‘Hmmmm,’ thought the wolf. ‘This little girl will make a tasty treat indeed, much more tender than the old woman. I will have the old woman for dinner and this little morsel for dessert.’ The wolf walked a little way with Red Riding Hood. Then he said, ‘Look at all the lovely flowers! I am sure your grandmother would love to have some.’
Red Riding Hood looked at all the bright flowers dancing in the woods. …”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“Then a voice called from the window: ‘Nibble, nibble, mousekin, / Who’s nibbling at my housekin?’ The children answered: ‘The breeze, the breeze / That blows through the trees,’ and ate on without letting it worry them.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


“She seized Hansel in her scrawny hands and put him in a little cage, and locked him in behind a wire door. He could scream as much as he liked and it would do him no good. Then she went to Gretel, shook her awake, and said, ‘Get up, lazybones, and cook your brother something nice to fatten him up. Then I can eat him.'”
(Click to enlarge spread)


* * * * * * *

THE BERNADETTE WATTS COLLECTION. Copyright © 2014 by NordSüd Verlag AG, CH-8005 Zürich, Switzerland. First published in the United States in 2015 by NorthSouth Books, Inc. Illustrations here reproduced by permission of the publisher.

8 comments to “Traditional Tales with Bernadette Watts”

  1. Thank you for your very kind words. And thank you also for including the words written by my special friend Eric.

  2. Ooh, so beautiful.

  3. wow! thank you for sharing this. bernadette’s work is absolutely amazing!

  4. Thank you for introducing us to this new collection Jules. I’ll be sure to add it to my bookshelves.

  5. Gorgeous!

  6. What lovely art – such color!!!! I’m so happy to see this. And I love what Eric Carle says about her work too. I look forward to a closer look.

  7. Thank you for this wonderful review! Only one thing was worrying me: Little Red Riding Hood was the first book that Bernadette Watts made with NorthSouth. It was published in 1968! And since it has always been in our list and readers stil loving it.

  8. Herwig, thanks for the clarification! I will fix that in the post now. I appreciate the heads-up!

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact Thanks.