Author Archives: mary grace ketner

About mary grace ketner

My lawyer tells me I should not put the words "Fairy Tale Lobbyist" on my business cards but rather "Representative" and "National Fairy Tale Association." But I'm not, and there isn't one. Even so, I don't think I'm going it alone.

H. J. Ford, 1860-1941


Ford, Queen of SnakesHenry Justice Ford is the beloved illustrator of Andrew Lang’s Color Fairy Books, from Blue (1889) to Lilac (1910)—1200 pictures, 437 stories! His line drawings and occasional water colors also fill Arabian Nights Entertainment (1895) and Pilgrim’s Progress (1921). Ford is especially acclaimed for his fantastical creatures: giants, ogres and monsters. As one contemporary artist has said, “Now, that’s a witch!”

At the age of 61, he married a young widow, and spent another three decades in good health, rubbing elbows with P. G. Wodehouse and Arthur Conan Doyle and playing cricket with J. M. Barrie.

Really? Cricket? at 80?

Edmund Dulac, 1882-1953


April A-Z Blogging Theme: Picture This! Traditional Fairy Tale Illustrators. (You may not know it, but I am on a first-name basis with some of these fabulous artists!)

Dulac Sinbad

“Sinbad,” from The Edmund Dulac Picture Book for the French Red Cross, 1915.

French-born Edmund Dulac arrived in London in 1904 just as improvements in the color separation process made it possible to print images that replicated the original artwork almost exactly. However, images had to be printed on coated paper which then had to be inserted by hand into the folios. After World War I, such costly gift books fell from fashion, so at the tender age of 35, Dulac’s profession became obsolete. He had “peaked” early. After that, he sustained himself meagerly by producing magazine illustrations, playing cards, postage stamps and banknotes for the young Queen Elizabeth II, and other graphics.

In 1915 during the Great war, Dulac published a “relief book” to raise funds for the Croix Rouge Francais. The Edmund Dulac Picture Book for the French Red Cross included his images above of the Persian lovers “Layla and Majnun” and “The Real Princess.”

Gustave Dore, 1832-1888


April A-Z Blogging Theme: Picture This! Traditional Fairy Tale Illustrators

Dore HopThumb

Considered too grim for Victorian children, this “Hop o’ My Thumb” illustration was omitted from the 1867 English translation of Perrault’s Fairy Tales.

No starving artist, Gustave Doré!

This French engraver’s skill and his prolific output (he produced some 80,000 wood engravings and lithographs, 400 oil paintings, and 30 works of sculpture) made him a millionaire twice over! He illustrated Balzac, Rabelais, Milton, Dante, Poe, Lord Byron, Cervantes, the English Bible, and Perrault’s Les Contes de Fées. Acclaimed throughout his career, he ultimately faced some criticism for his “dark” fairy tales.

In an era of black and white printing, his images brought colorful characters to life. Perhaps best known is his Don Quixote, which greatly influenced later illustrators as well as casting studios.


Lascivious and conniving, Bluebeard shows his gentle wife which key not to use. Puss in Boots calls out, “Help! Help! The Marquis of Carrabas is drowning!”

Dore Quixote

Once seen, can Doré’s image of don Quixote and Sancho Panza ever be forgotten?



Walter Crane, 1845-1915

Crane, Bluebeard

Bluebeard’s Bride. Note the wall panel behind her featuring her precursor in curiousity, Eve.

Watercolorist Walter Crane was a Socialist and a noteworthy contributor to the English Arts and Crafts Movement. Like his friend, the movement’s founder William Morris, Crane’s artistic vision was to bring beauty and sensibility to people’s daily lives: their clothing, their homes, their useful objects. Thus, he illustrated practical and educational materials and texts as well as literature and classics such as Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene and Grimm’s Household Tales. His fine linework, decorative backdrops and page layouts summon images of old illuminated manuscripts. No effort was too tedious to discourage beauty in the most common of locations!

Crane, Jack

Jack appears to descend an Arts and Crafts wallpaper beanstalk.

Walter Cranes beloved “Lion and Dove”wallpaper panel is still available today through Bradbury & Bradbury Art Wallpapers.

Crane, Bradbury

Aubrey Beardsley, 1872-1898


April A to Z Blogging Theme:  Picture this! Traditional Fairy Tale Illustrators


Ali Baba, Victoria and Albert Museum

“I am nothing if not grotesque,” Beardsley said. True for his era, perhaps, but even his erotic drawings of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata would hardly stir up a scandal today.

In a mere six-year career before his untimely death, Art Nouveau artist Beardsley achieved a level of artistry in pen and ink illustration. Inspired by Japanese shunga prints and the posters of Toulous-Lautrec, he is best known for works of legend (Tannhauser, Morte d’ Artur), contemporary literature (Oscar Wilde’s Salome), and magazine art for The Savoy, (which he co-founded), but hidden in his portfolio are some irresistible fairy tale drawings, too.


The Slippers of Cinderella, 1894


Le Morte d’ Arthur, 1893-1894







Eleanore Plaisted Abbott, 1875-1935


April A to Z Blogging Theme:  Picture this! Traditional Fairy Tale Illustrators

Abbott, Shoes

Elinore Abbott, “The Shoes That Were Danced to Pieces,” Grimms Fairy Tales, 1920.

A feminist and contributor to the Golden Era of American Illustration, Elinore Abbott studied at the School of Design for Women, the Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia, the Académie des Beaux-Arts, Paris, and Howard Pyle’s Drexel Institute. Affluent and educated, a “New Woman” as defined by Henry James’ novel Daisy Miller, she and her artist husband each worked from their own studio in their Rose Valley, PA, home. Besides Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Abbott illustrated editions of Hawthorne’s Tanglewood Tales, Stevenson’s Kidnapped and Treasure Island, and Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe along with features in Scribner’s, Harper’s and The Saturday Evening Post.

Abbott, Two Brothers

Elinore Abbott, “Two Brothers,” The Wild Swans and Other Stories, 1922.


Elinore Abbott, “The Two Kings’ Children,” Grimms’ Fairy Tales, 1920.


Ready, Set, Read!


photoI’m Storyteller Mary Grace Ketner, and I have plenty of active adventures for your Summer Reading Club!

Run a marathon with me through 398.2 ! We’ll tackle stories of courage and skill and cleverness, winning traits admired by folks long ago and far away as much as here and now.

Yes! Traditional folk tales and fairy tales from fascinating cultures all around the world plot their hero’s journey through these shelves. Let me spin your young patrons some stories to give them courage and confidence and remind us all that our world is composed of diverse human beings who can all be winners.

“The next day my 398.2’s were just flying off the shelves!”–Dawn Burbach, Librarian, Harlingen TX CISD


What are your story programs like?

My sessions consist of folktales, fairy tales and legends shared aloud in the oral tradition. Click on an age range in the menu above to view sample story programs for each age group.

How much do your programs cost?

My fees for summer reading programs in Bexar County and south Texas are here, and I’ll be glad to give you a quote if your library is elsewhere. I’ve posted rates that save you money if  you share my trip with a nearby library.

tca_horizontal_blue_tagI am on the Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Artist Roster so funding is available to cover up to half of the cost. Read about TCA’s Arts Respond Performance Support Grants.

The grant application deadline for summer performances occurring June 14 or earlier is February 1. The deadline for programs presented June 15 – August 31 is May 1.

MAAA-logo-colorI am also on the Mid-America Arts Alliance Artist Registry; libraries in Arkansas,Kansas, Oklahoma or Nebraska may read about M-AAA grant information  here.

So, what do I do next?

Just let me know!  I’ll answer any questions you may have, and we can set a date!

Write me at mgk at or call me at 210-887-0628.

Read more about me at or enjoy The Fairy Tale Lobby, a fairy tale interest blog which Megan Hicks and I write together.

2016 Collaborative Summer Library Program Themes are:

For children: Ready, Set, Read!

For Teens: Get in the Game: Read

For Adults: Exercise Your Mind: Read

Learn more about CSLP here or watch some recorded activity ideas from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission here.


Z is for Jack Zipes





Retired professor of German and European Studies at U-Minn Jack Zipes is a translator and mediator of Fairy Tales, a purveyor of wonder and hope. Fairy Tales, he says, offer glimpses of how one may become master of one’s own fate.

When a storyteller does the scholarly detective work to draw parallels between story and social significance and grasps the metaphors, the tales work their magic. They begin “to awaken our regard for the miraculous condition of life and to evoke profound feelings of awe and respect for life as a miraculous process which can be altered or changed….”

Wonder, hope, awe, respect, . . . here we come!

Zipes, Jack, Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion. Routledge Classics, 2011.

Zipes, Jack, The Golden Age of Folk and Fairy Tales: From the Brothers Grimm to Andrew Lang. Hackett Publishing Co., 2013.

Zipes Jack, The Irresistable Fairy Tale: The Cultural and Social History of a Genre. Princeton University Press, 2013.

Y is for Young Listeners

 Illustration by L. Leslie Brooke, Frederick Warne & Co. 1904.

Illustration by L. Leslie Brooke, Frederick Warne & Co. 1904.




For the youngest listeners there is a special genre called Nursery Tales. Not Mother Goose rhymes, not fingerplays, but fully story, these tales amuse, frighten or satisfy tots and stimulate cognitive play in ways that are quite visible and exciting to the storyteller. Classics for two- and three-year olds are “Three Little Pigs,” “Goldilocks,” “The Gunniwolf,” “Little Red Hen,” “Gingerbread Man,” “Three Billy Goats Gruff,” and others.

Unlike nursery rhymes and fingerplays, which are important and wonderful, Nursery Tales lay the groundwork for the concept of story, and—preaching to the choir, here!—story is what makes us human.

One of these will be “just right!”: a wonderful small collection with a CD, a collection by one of America’s favorite illustrators, and a worldwide collection.

Lupton, Hugh, The Story Tree: Tales to Read Aloud, illustrated by Sophie Fatus. (Includes CD of the tales told by Hugh Lupton.) Barefoot Books 2009.

Scarry, Richard, Richard Scarry’s Best Nursery Tales Ever. Golden Books 2014.

Sierra, Judy, Nursery Tales Around the World, Illustrated by Stefano Vitale. Clarion, 1996.

X is for X-men

Illustration by H. J. Ford in Andrew Lang's Yellow Fairy Book, 1894.

Illustration by H. J. Ford in Andrew Lang’s Yellow Fairy Book, 1894.



Before there was Stan Lee, there were X-men, mutant heroes. Storytellers call them “magical friends” for, with their mutant capabilities and unnatural powers, they befriend the hero in his quest. When I tell “The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship,” I call the seven heroes Hearsalot, Runsalot, Shootsalot, Eatsalot, and—by the time the last three arrive, kids are joining in: “Drinksalot!” “Strawsalot!” “Sticksalot!”

Without them, the Fool of the World could never have brought back the water of life from the well at the world’s end or foiled the Tsar’s tricks or married the Tsarevna!

Hooray for X-men!

Your quest for mutant heroes ends here: a picture book, a Classic Russian Collection, and a beloved Andrew Lang:

Ransome, Arthur, The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, illustrated by Uri Schulevitz. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1968.

Ransome, Arthur, Old Peter’s Russian Tales. Mellon Press, 2008.

Lang, Andrew, The Yellow Fairy Book, illustrated by H. J. Ford. Reprinted by Flying Chipmunk Publishing, 2009. (Also available for Kindle and on the Gutenberg Project.)