The Emperor and the Nightingale

by Hans Christian Andersen

Other authorsRobert Van Nutt (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1989



Call number




Simon & Schuster (1989), Edition: Edition not noted, 1 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.

User reviews

LibraryThing member MrsLee
A beautifully illustrated and narrated story. This was given to me when I was 9 and I remember losing myself in the pictures of this book.
LibraryThing member austinwood
The Chinese story of a nightingale and Emperor.
LibraryThing member Mparis
This wonderful old Hans Christian Anderson tale, tells of an Emperor in China who tries to keep a lovely Nightingale caged up to sing to him. Soon, the Nightingale is replaced by a jeweled mechanical one who never tires of singing. The Nightingale never forgets the tears in the Emperor's eyes as he
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listened to him sing that first time. He helps the Emperor by chasing off Death and lives free to sing when he wishes to the grateful Emperor.
This is a beautiful tale of appreciating what one has in life and not taking advantage of it.
Classroom connection: Folktales of China; study of China
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LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
The Nightingale, illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert.

Like The Little Mermaid, or The Ugly Duckling (with which it was originally published in 1843), The Nightingale is one of Hans Christian Andersen's original fairy-tales, relating the story of the Emperor of China, who learns to value natural
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beauty above mechanized dazzle. Discovering that foreign visitors consider the humble nightingale - whose song he has never heard - the greatest treasure of his kingdom, the Emperor demands a performance. Enchanted at first with the bird's beautiful song, he soon finds a new favorite in a jewel-encrusted copy of the nightingale, sent to him by the Emperor of Japan. Which is superior: the flesh-and-blood bird, whose songs are beautiful but irregular, or the beautiful machine, whose one song is always perfect?

Interpreted in a number of different ways over the years, The Nightingale has, for me, always been most meaningful as an exploration of the idea that many of the things truly worth having - beauty, authenticity, truth - are not the sort of things that can be caged and put on display. This picture-book retelling, with an immensely readable text - translated by actress Eva La Gallienne - and gorgeous watercolor artwork by Nancy Ekholm Burkert, who also illustrated Andersen's The Fir Tree, is one of my favorites! I would say that it's just about tied with Bagram Ibatoulline's version as the best one out there.
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LibraryThing member librisissimo
A good translation beautifully illustrated. The moral holds up very well, and Andersen's story is gently witty.
LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
The Nightingale, illustrated by Mary J. Newill.

Originally published by D.B. Updike at the Merrymount Press in 1895, and then reprinted in this edition by R.H. Russell in 1898, this nineteenth-century retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's The Nightingale features the translation of H.W. Dulcken,
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and the gorgeous engraving-style illustrations of Mary J. Newill.

A student at the Birmingham School of Art, and a participant in the late nineteenth, and early twentieth-century Arts and Crafts Movement, Newill was a well-known illustrator, stained glass designer, and embroiderer. Her landscape work was considered particularly fine, and won praise from figures such as Walter Crane.

The five plates contained in The Nightingale are simply beautiful: detailed, bold, compelling. Judged on artwork alone, this outstanding little gem of a book merits a five-star rating. Unfortunately, Dulcken's stiff, archaic-sounding translation - so very Victorian in style - detracted somewhat from my enjoyment. Still, Newill's illustrations are the real appeal here, and they do not disappoint. If they ever do publish a retrospective of her work, I'll be first on line to buy it!
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Original language



0887080820 / 9780887080821

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