The Nightingale (Works in Translation)

by Hans Christian Andersen

Hardcover, 2002



Local notes

398.2 And



Candlewick (2002), Edition: 1st, Hardcover, 48 pages


Though the emperor banishes the nightingale in preference for a jeweled mechanical imitation, the little bird remains faithful and returns years later when the emperor is near death and no one else can help him.

Original publication date


Physical description

48 p.; 11.6 inches


0763615218 / 9780763615215



User reviews

LibraryThing member RebeccaStevens
This book is a retelling of the classic Hans Christian Anderson story. The story tells of an emperor who commands a nightingale to stay in court to sing for him. Then a mechanical bird is made that will sing longer than the real bird. When the real bird flies away, the emperor comes to miss her, especially when he become ill and cannot wind the mechanical bird. When the nightingale comes back, the emperor thanks it by allowing it to fly freely, knowing that it will return to him from time to time.

This book is illustrated with lovely depictions of traditional Chinese cultural scenes. I especially like the landscape paintings. The writing style is elegant and noble.

This book would be a good book for fifth or sixth grade readers. It would introduce cultural ideas along with the more general ideas of freedom and loyalty. The children could also try to copy the style of pictures to practice the Oriental art forms.
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
The Nightingale, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline.

"In China, as you know, the Emperor is Chinese, and all the people are Chinese, too," begins this classic tale from Hans Christian Andersen, originally published in 1843, as part of the first volume of Nye Eventyr (New Fairy Tales). The story of an emperor who learns the true worth of the nightingale's song only when beset by death, and virtually abandoned by his many courtiers and servants, it has been interpreted as everything from a tribute to Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind ("The Swedish Nightingale"), to a meditation on the superiority of individual creation to mechanized production.

However one chooses to read the story, Stephen Mitchell's lovely translation for Candlewick Press must surely entertain and enthrall. His detailed explanation of his process - which he correctly labels "adaptation," rather than pure translation - will be particularly welcome to anyone who enjoys comparing various retellings of the same story. Bagram Ibatoulline, who has also illustrated Andersen's The Tinderbox and Thumbelina, delivers gorgeously detailed ink, watercolor and gouache illustrations, inspired by classical Chinese art. Every panel is a pleasure to behold, with a lush palette and many expressive details - even the endpapers are beautiful!
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(10 ratings; 4.3)
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