You Can't Kill Snow White (Hardcover)

You Can't Kill Snow White By Beatrice Alemagna (Created by), Karin Snelson (Translated by), Emilie Robert Wong (Translated by) Cover Image

You Can't Kill Snow White (Hardcover)

By Beatrice Alemagna (Created by), Karin Snelson (Translated by), Emilie Robert Wong (Translated by)


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In this dark, genre-defying picture-book adaptation of Snow White, acclaimed artist Beatrice Alemagna tells the story from the point of view of the jealous stepmother queen, to complicate the question of goodness and set into high relief the shadow side, with its capacity for evil, of human life.

Shortlisted for the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative's Translated Young Adult Book Prize!

Once upon a time, a child was born with skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony: the princess Snow White. She is possessed of beauty and innocence, but there in the shadows lurks a queen who will remarry her widower father, a queen who is as empty and envious, as narcissistic and fractured as is every life that gets stuck in the endless reflecting pool or mirror of the self. Void of love, it is hatred that animates her. 

But like all true fairy tales, this story doesn't ask us to judge and condemn the queen and her hatred, but rather to consider the kinds of behaviors and situations that invite evil, and where true innocence or goodness might lie. Following the first-person account of the queen, this picture book for older readers illuminates her blinding obsession and insatiable jealousy, right up to the point of her violent undoing.

This large format picture book is made up of a repeating pattern of text and image: each double spread of text is followed by four striking full-spread paintings, which are as riveting as they are unsettling. A bold adaptation of the Grimm's original text, this version of Snow White brilliantly puts us all in touch with the messy, shadowed, fraught, and fragile inwardness we each possess. 

This is the second book to appear under Unruly, an imprint of picture books for older readers, and will include an author's note and a short note to readers about how it continues to build this experimental framework of visually complex, sophisticated picture books for teens and adults.

Beatrice Alemagna has written and illustrated dozens of children’s books, which have received numerous awards all over the world and have been translated into 14 languages. The author-illustrator of two New York Times Best Illustrated books, she has also been nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award seven times and shortlisted for the Hans Christian Andersen Award twice. Enchanted Lion has published four of her picture books: The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy; Child of GlassTelling Stories Wrong; and the forthcoming You Can't Kill Snow White, a picture book for teens and adults, published under Enchanted Lion's Unruly imprint. Born in Bologna, Italy, Alemagna lives and works in Paris, France.
Product Details ISBN: 9781592703814
ISBN-10: 159270381X
Publisher: Enchanted Lion
Publication Date: October 25th, 2022
Pages: 96
Language: English

Shortlisted for the Global Literature in Libraries Initiative's Translated Young Adult Book Prize!

"In You Can't Kill Snow White, Beatrice Alemagna’s strange, organic paintings recreate the brutal envy that underpins the original Brothers Grimm story. Minimizing the prose—which is lucidly translated from the French by Karin Snelson and Emilie Robert Wong—and maximizing the unsettling emotionality of each image, Alemagna explores the heart and mind of the 'evil' queen, from whose point of view this version of the tale is told... Readers looking for the why that drives this envy will be disappointed. But the why doesn’t matter. You Can’t Kill Snow White asks us to bear witness to the experience and consequences of jealousy—and to acknowledge our complicity. What horrors have we inflicted on others? Whose hearts have we willingly devoured? And what do we stand to lose when we succumb to envy’s lure? In this, the story is clear: Envy burns us alive, leaving only ashes behind."

— Newbery Medalist Kelly Barnhill (The Girl Who Drank the Moon)

"Similar to how Klassen’s texture makes my brain play and fill in the world, Beatrice’s loose paintings in this one are an even more amplified example—toes on the line at times between representational and abstract art. The familiar fairy tale she’s retelling becomes a truly strange and foreign affair with this treatment… Like the remembrance of a dream, or a Polaroid from childhood… Beatrice’s book was a constant reminder for me to lean into the smudge and away from crisp renderings."

— Shawn Harris

"A retelling of 'Snow White' from the queen’s perspective, this picture-book for young adults... asks readers to understand and sympathize with the desperation and desire that drive villainy. The layered paintings capture emotions in ways that go beyond what is evoked by the text, making the more violent and dark aspects of the tale hit home. Immediately recognizable while reflecting things beyond our world, this fairy-tale universe... pushes at the bounds of the familiar. The queen’s anguish is depicted through close-up images of her stricken face that dare readers to look directly at her. The book’s greatest strength lies in its portrayal of the queen’s fear and rage and the disproportionate cruelty of her punishment... The art captivates: The beauty depicted in the story is almost sinister, and jewel tones are mixed with sickly greens and blacks. Collage and comic-style sequences enhance and add variety to the illustrations... Visceral and surreal."
— Kirkus Reviews

“The second release under Enchanted Lion’s new Unruly imprint, which is devoted to picture books for YA readers, Alemagna’s dark, more authentic take on this classic fairy tale is well suited to the audience... There is a crudeness to Alemagna’s sweeping watercolors, with thick lines bleeding their muted tones into beguiling scenes punctuated by strokes of hot pink or white... It's a visceral reading experience that those with a penchant for fairy tales’ darker sides will revel in.”
— Booklist

“In this unsparing variation on the Brothers Grimm story, Alemagna embraces all the intensity and violence of the original. Narrating in the oft-villainized queen’s voice, … blank verse lines appear sans illustrations, followed by multiple wordless full-bleed spreads in which beauty and horror intermingle. The loose, liquid images employ earth tones and electric pink to spotlight blood and hair, thorny undergrowth, angular rooms, and exaggerated features among the cast, portrayed with varying skin tones. The titular princess is nearly silent throughout, distinguished by flowing dark hair, while the queen is shown taking action: in one scene, the exquisitely coiffed woman devours raw the bloody boar’s heart that she believes is Snow White’s. As Snow White approaches marriage, death offers the queen release: ‘becoming everything, again..../ Becoming nothing’ via blazing hot iron shoes. It’s an artfully produced volume that, per a preface, hints at ‘what is brutal, dark, and feral, as a way of telling the full story of childhood.’”
— Publishers Weekly

“The Queen’s narrative perspective spurs an exploration of the pain and desperation brought on by her narcissism, and readers are put in an unsettling place of sympathy and blame: it’s clear this woman is in anguish, but her suffering is self-inflicted. Alemagna is careful not to overemphasize any specific message or moral here, allowing the reader to marinate in whatever they find the most discomfiting. That approach is mirrored in the riotous paintings that strike an appropriate and intriguing balance between the grotesque and the artistic. Figures are distorted and demented, palettes and textures clash, and perspectives are offkilter, all of which invite viewers to pore over the captivating details and imagery. Picture books for older readers don’t always land with their target audience, but this will be an absolute draw for fans of dark fairy tales, and it has broad curricular possibilities in a fairy tale unit and/or art class.”
— Kate Quealy-Gainer