Danish author Hans Christian Anderson was born in 1805, and wrote a LOT—poems, books about travel, novels, and fairy tales. The image above is of a stamp, created in Hong Kong, China to commemorate Anderson’ 200th birthday. This stamp was part of a collection of four, with each stamp representing a different fairy tale that was authored by Anderson. The image here is a representation of the title character from The Little Mermaid. The work of the visual artist Lu Xue is used for the stamps. She is a Chinese paper cutter, who has been cutting paper into beautiful works of art since she was 6 years old.
The Little Mermaid, like many of Anderson’s fairy tales, has inspired works of visual art, films, plays, and musicals. The original story has a little different ending than that of the Disney film, but the essential elements are the same. The Little Mermaid tells of a young mermaid, who longs to have some of the things, and attributes, that the human people who walk on land possess. She gives up her life under the sea, and the use of her voice, in order to know what the human world is like—and to pursue the love of the young prince who she has rescued. Hans Christian Anderson’s original fairy tale was published with one type of illustration which was popular during that time—a series of drawings placed throughout the story to give his readers a visual image with which to connect.
As you probably know, mermaids are mythological creatures which are half human and half fish; and the idea of the existence of mermaids was very popular during the time Anderson lived in Denmark. There is even a bronze statue of The Little Mermaid near the water in Copenhagen, Denmark. The statue was commissioned by a man who saw a ballet adaptation of the story, and fell in love with the beautiful tale—so, he asked a sculptor to create the statue.
Using Hans Christian Anderson’s story of The Little Mermaid, or another fairy tale you know well, create an outline of the way in which you would tell the story. Would you make it more modern? Would you change the ending? After creating your outline, decide how you would illustrate the fairy tale you’ve adapted. How many illustrations, or visual pieces of art, would you want or need to capture your readers’ imaginations? Finally, using your outline and decisions about visual images, write your fairy tale--including some illustrations which help your readers to enter into the world you’ve created within your story!