HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty
Author: Michael Teitelbaum
Illustrator: Ron Dias
Publisher: Golden Books Pub. Co., republished in 2004
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Teitelbaum, Michael. Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty (originally published around 1959 and reprinted in 1993 by Western Publishing). Almost everyone knows something about the story of Sleeping Beauty, a classic fairy tale first published in 1697 by Charles Perrault in his Tales of Mother Goose. At the christening of a long-wished-for princess, fairies offer gifts, such as beauty, wit, and musical talent. However, a wicked fairy who had been overlooked places the princess under an enchantment, saying that, on reaching adulthood, she will prick her finger on the spindle of the Spinning Wheel of Death and die. However, one last fairy has yet to give her gift, so she partially reverses the wicked fairy’s curse, proclaiming that the princess will instead fall into a deep sleep for 100 years. When the princess is fifteen or sixteen she meets an old woman, really the wicked fairy in disguise, spinning in a tower of the castle, and pricks her finger. The good fairy returns and puts everyone in the castle to sleep. A forest of briars sprang up around the castle, and after a hundred years had passed, a prince enters the castle, kisses the princess, her, and wakes her up. Then everyone in the castle awakens to continue where they had left off, and they all lived happily ever after.
One of my favorite Walt Disney animated films is his 1959 version of Sleeping Beauty, probably because it used the music that Peter Tchaikovsky composed for his ballet on the same subject. Even as I write this, I can hear in my head the sweeping strains of the introduction to Tchaikovsky’s waltz from Sleeping Beauty, the main theme of which Disney composer George Bruns turned into the song, “I Know You, I Danced With You Once Upon a Dream.” When I was growing up, we had many of the older Little Golden Book editions of Disney films, but Sleeping Beauty wasn’t among them, although we did have a “sequel” entitled Sleeping Beauty and the Three Good Fairies. Therefore, when our boys were small, I purchased one.
There are some differences between the original story and the Disney film. After many childless years, King Stefan and Queen Leah welcomed the arrival of their daughter. The princess is named Aurora instead of Helen and she is betrothed to Prince Phillip, the son of a neighboring king named Hubert. The evil fairy is named Maleficent, and the three good fairies are named Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather. With the King and Queen’s consent, they disguise themselves as mortals and sneak Aurora away with them to a woodland cottage until her sixteen birthday passes. Years later, Aurora, renamed Briar-Rose, has grown into a gorgeous young woman. She attracts the attention of Prince Phillip, now a handsome young man, as he is out riding his horse in the woods, and they fall in love, but she has to go. The Prince is then kidnapped by Maleficent. The good fairies discover the Prince’s whereabouts and free the prince. Armed with a magical Sword and Shield, Phillip desperately tries to reach the Princess but finds himself cutting through a forest of thorns and finally battling a dragon, which is really Maleficent . Phillip throws the sword directly into Maleficent’s heart, climbs to Aurora’s chamber, and removes the curse with a kiss.