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Category Archives: gordon laite

“Gordon Laite’s breathtaking artwork for a Little Golden Book edition of the Andersen fairy tale was found recently in the Golden Books archive. Planned for a 1970 release but never published, this Little Golden Book is finally making its debut for today’s fairy tale fans! And it couldn’t be a lovelier retelling of the story of a determined princess whose loyalty saves her brothers from being turned into swans by an evil queen.” ~Random House

What the what? Yes, you read that right. This is all the more valuable bc Laite died at such a young age, before he had the time to illustrate many books. I’ve already reviewed some of his other stories- like Cinderella, Diamonds and Toads in the Blue Fairy Book, and More Tales to Tremble By.
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Based on Hans Christian Anderson’s story, the adaptor, Robin Davies does a wonderful job changing Anderson’s story (of which I’m not a fan) into something nearly identical to the Grimms’ fairy tale, “The Six Swans.”  The Late Medieval 15th century setting is amazing. Check out the evil step mother’s bizarre hennin. I also love that she’s nearly green with envy. FYI- if I’d had thirteen kids, I probably would have died too.  IMG_2530 The beautiful raven haired Elisa meets a fairy woman. I love the little details like mushroom gathering, leaf crown, and blue stockings. IMG_2531

Autumnal colors characterize all the illustrations. IMG_2532 IMG_2533 IMG_2534 IMG_2535

Those ladies are throwing some serious shade Elisa’s way. IMG_2536 But not as much as this guy! I almost forgive him bc his fur hat is all kinds of amazing. IMG_2537 Can these illustrations get anymore awesomely gothic?IMG_2538Why yes they can- I love that Laite ditched Elisa’s amazing truncated butterfly hennin so he could illustrate her gorgeous hair in the remaining pictures.
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This little book is a dream come true for me. Not only is set during one of my absolute favorite time periods for fairy tales, it’s by Gordon Laite, the most influential of my childhood art heroes.


I’ve always heard of this story as “diamonds and toads,” instead of the other way around. it’s the familiar poor girl with mean stepmother/stepsister scenario.

i think you can guess who’s who from this scene. i love her think black wavy hair and the expression of her face is some of Gordon Laite’s best work. The fabulous 16th century tudor outfits aren’t usually seen in many fairy tales. 
and old ragged beggar {with the most righteous beggar’s rags i’ve ever seen!} asks for a drink of water. Our lovely heroine obliges and wouldn’t you know it, the beggar’s actually a fairy. Gifts are given.
The mean sister decides she wants some of that action and waits by the fountain. A beautiful lady appears and asks for a drink of water. The haughty sister, expecting the beggar woman at any moment, tells the lady to get bent. Bad move! Fairies aren’t stupid. She wasn’t going to wear the same disguise twice. Sheesh. Oh and by the way, she “gifts” the mean sister with snakes and toads falling out of her mouth with every word. Nice.
I would like to say, i think the fairy’s outfit is one of the most beautiful i’ve seen. This time period can be hard to reproduce without making the ladies look like lovely boxes, but Mr. Laite translates the styles wonderfully.

The nice daughter gets picked up by a smart prince who not only figured out she was lovely under her dirty house dress, but also realized she had, you know, diamonds and other precious stones falling out of her mouth. Good for you pal. I just sincerely hope he’s not Henry the VIII bc diamonds or no, if a son doesn’t fall out of her, she’s finished.

as i promised, here are the scans of gordon laite’s “cinderella” paper doll~

i’ve looked for this book for 15 years. finally, this year i ended up purchasing two books. one with the dolls and one with the uncut clothing. there really aren’t enough good things i can say about these dolls. to me, they are the pinnacle of paper doll art. i can’t explain… of course it might be that i just have 5 year old child brain again every time i look at them. something along the lines of “dresses!… cookies!… tea parties!… pretty!…kittens!…robin hood!” {don’t ask}.
Cinderella and Prince Charming
lovely house outfits
glorious golden ballgown
green wedding gown and blue 2nd gown
Charming’s wedding suit and his suit for the ball. 
with what the price a complete copy commands i’m shocked someone hasn’t scanned them in for people to enjoy. the book is out of print and the talented mr. laite died in 1978. click to enlarge and please enjoy them as much as i do 🙂 

Cinderella is an autumn tale. Don’t believe me? Pumpkins. Okay, occasionally it’s a winter tale and the ball is actually a yule ball. Cinderella comes in decked in flowers which makes the party-goers believe she’s a fairy bc it’s the dead of winter. i.e.- “rashin’ coatie” (“coat of rushes” a scottish cinderella variant). But usually, it’s an autumn tale.

The most influential book of my childhood was Gordon Laite’s “Cinderella.” I owned the little golden book with paper dolls. It ignited in me a passion for drawing, clothes, and paper dolls~ for everything. I made supplentary dresses for my doll from other Cinderella movies. Not only disney’s “Cinderella” but “Cinderella” with Leslie Caron as well as “the Slipper and the Rose” both of which had gorgeous costumes.
I discovered something: aside from the pleasure of drawing, I was good at it. It was revelatory. I wasn’t good at anything. But suddenly I was good at this.

“Cinderella”-illustrated by Gordon Laite
a couple of stone. cold. bitches.
check out Cinderella’s fabulous dress with sunflowers. Who said everything for a girl must be pepto bismol pink?

and how beautiful is her fairy godmother with her autumn leaf dress and golden butterfly wings?
the footman has literally “flipped his wig.”












enter dress #2! a lovely ermine trimmed blue velvet number. just don’t google what ermine look like or you may not like Cinderella as much.

too late! run little guy!

a white and green wedding dress! does it get any better? have i mentioned that as a little girl my favorite color was green? trust me, not a popular little girl color, even in the groovy and awesome late 70s of my childhood. So yes, i was validated by Cinderella’s dress. 

I understand it’s very popular to denigrate Cinderella and her virtues. But there is a place for somewhat passive heroines as well as alpha females. As a shy bookish little artist i delighted in Cinderella, Snow White, and Beauty- where good was rewarded and evil cosmically punished. i also enjoyed “east of the sun and west of the moon,” with it’s plucky heroine who saves her prince from a fate worse than death (a wedding night with the troll princess). There’s room for everyone. Wallflowers and alpha-females, scullery maids and brave girls with wanderlust alike.  

And so while i understand the inherent problems Cinderella poses for a modern audience, i love her anyway. She’s nice and industrious. She’s good at sewing, cooking, and patient with the assholes around her. She loves animals and misses her mother. And in the versions i read and watched as a kid, my imagination filled in the blanks. Cinderella wasn’t just a pretty face. No way! She and the prince were so busy talking about all the things they both liked to do and read that he forgot to ask her name. 
She was just that amazing. 


ps- i have the dolls and clothing as well. i’ll scan and post them soon.

published in 1968, “more tales to tremble by,” illustrated by gordan laite, is full of surprising creeps. although a children’s book, the selection of stories are anything but childike. 

boasting stories such as, “the red lodge,” by h. russell wakefield and “the extra passenger,” by weird luminary august derluth, the stories are sure to frighten children and most likely frighten adults even more.

“sredni vashtar,” by saki is my favorite in the collection. 10 year old conradin lives with his oppressive cousine and guardian, “mrs. de ropp.” a sickly boy, his every possible joy and excitement is suppressed by his guardian, whom he feels is hastening him to his death. secretly he obtains a large polecat-ferret. as the embodiment of life, he imagines it a vengeful god and he its faithful supplicant. eventually mrs. de ropp discovers the animal and enters the shed where it’s hidden to dispose of it. conradin, from the window above, watches helplessly.
“and in the sting and misery of his defeat he began to chant loudly and defiantly the hymn of his threatened idol: ‘srendi vashtar went forth; his thoughts were red and his teeth were white. his enemies called for peace, but he brought them death. sredni vashtar the beautiful.’
“… and presently his eyes were rewarded: out through that doorway came a long, low yellow and brown beast, with eyes a-blink at the waning daylight and dark wet stains around the fur of his jaws and throat.”
contentedly, conradin proceeds to eat toast and drink his afternoon tea with enjoyment.

gordon laite’s art is beautiful. all of his art i’ve seen prior to this has been full color so it was a delight to see his linework. sadly, due to the wonderful painted cover, this book is often “reused” to make journals so pick one up while you can.