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Good Stuff for Special Days By Becky Rupp

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Good Stuff for Special Days by Becky Rupp

Hans Christian Andersen’s Birthday April 2


April 2 is Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday. Andersen, born on this day in 1805 in Odense, Denmark, is the author of over 100 classic fairy tales, among them “The Little Mermaid,” “The Snow Queen,” “Thumbelina,” “The Little Match Girl,” “The Ugly Duckling,” “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” “The Nightingale,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” and “The Princess and the Pea.”

In his honor, the Hans Christian Andersen Award – sometimes called the “Little Nobel Prize” – has been given to children’s authors since 1956. Past winners include Virginia Hamilton, Paula Fox, Scott O’Dell, and Katherine Paterson.

For Hans Christian Andersen Fairy Tales and Stories online, visit

These are the original eerie 19th-century versions of the tales, illustrated by the “official” artists, chosen by Andersen himself.  Also included are a “virtual bookstore” of Andersen works, courtesy of, an Andersen timeline, a tour of Andersen’s home, and an audio clip of “I’m Hans Christian Andersen” from the 1952 movie Hans Christian Andersen starring Danny Kaye. ($7.99 in DVD from

Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales is a detailed lesson plan on Andersen and his works, targeted at grades 3-5 but adaptable for a wider range of ages. Included are background information, book and website recommendations, and activities and projects for five Andersen stories.

While there are dozens – no, hundreds – of picture-book versions of individual Andersen stories for younger readers, The Annotated Hans Christian Andersen (W.W. Norton and Company, 2007), edited by fairy-tale scholar Maria Tatar, is a great source for the seriously interested. Major sections cover “Tales for Children” and “Tales for Adults,” each story illustrated with reproductions from various original artists and plastered with interesting marginal notes that cover historical context, literary interpretations, quotations, and just plain fascinating facts. Available from bookstores and online booksellers.

Beth Wagner Brust’s 80-page The Amazing Paper Cuttings of Hans Christian Andersen (Sandpiper, 2003) pairs a biography of Andersen with pictures of the complex paper-cuttings he made to accompany readings of his fairy tales. A final chapter discusses the traditional art of paper-cutting. Recommended for ages 7-12.

Want to try some paper cutting of your own? Check out Paper Cutting Art Projects for Kids. The site has projects for a wide range of ages.

And finally, check out Once Upon a Mattress (2005), based on the original 1959 Broadway musical. In this hilarious and delightful version of Andersen’s “The Princess and the Pea,” wimpy Prince Dauntless is searching for a bride, balked at every turn by his mother, the domineering Queen Aggravain. His favorite candidate is the dorky Princess Winnifred, commonly known as Fred. With Carol Burnett as the Queen, Denis O’Hare as Dauntless, and Tracy Ullman as Fred. Rated PG.

On DVD from Netflix, movie stores, and online movie suppliers.

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