Book summary: The Castle of Pictures: A Grandmother's Tales

1994 BY GEORGE SAND

In her sixties, George Sand delighted in spinning tales that entertained and educated her two adored granddaughters, Aurore and Gabrielle. Fortunately, she also published thirteen of them for the rest of us to enjoy. The Castle of Pictures presents four of these stories, three of which have never before been translated into English.

Both girls and boys are depicted in these stories as empowered by curiosity, hard work, persistence, and honesty. They successfully protect themselves from danger by using their ingenuity and remaining faithful to their own consciences.

In the title story a girl becomes an artist through the persistent nurturance of her own talent despite opposition from her father, himself a painter. "What Flowers Say" is a wickedly funny satire of class snobbery as played out among chrysanthemums, poppies, numerous varieties of roses, and other denizens of the garden. "The Bug-Eyed Fairy" investigates wonders of the insect world invisible to the normal human eye. In "The Talking Oak", an outcast orphan boy learns to rely on hard work and a strong sense of right and wrong to make his way first through the natural world, with the help of The Talking Oak who becomes his first friend, and then through the compexities of the world of grown-ups.

Sand never talked down to her granddaughters. Her astonishingly deep knowledge of subjects ranging from botany and lepidopterology to art history, her subtle understanding of the human heart and the creative spirit, and her sense of wonder at the world's beauty and mystery are available here for children of all ages.

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