If it were up to me, I’d make sure every single children’s bookshelf had at least one of Ruth Sanderson’s wonderful books. Her stories are simple, sweet, and yet thought-provoking, and her illustrations are clear, uncluttered and utterly beautiful. The Crystal Mountain is no exception, and is definitely up there as one of her best works.
As she did with The Golden Mare, the Firebird and the Magic Ring, Sanderson ingeniously combines more than one fairy or folk tale to create a story that is both new and familiar. In this case she borrows from the Chinese story “The Magic Brocade” and the traditional Norwegian tale of “The Princess on the Glass Hill,” to tell the tale of Anna, a famous seamstress who has a dream that she is determined to create on her loom. When the beautiful tapestry of her Eden-like house and garden is complete, it is unfortunately stolen away by the fairies so that they might make a copy. Anna is desperate to have her precious tapestry back and so sends her three sons Leon, Blaine and Perrin out after it. Though Leon and Blaine soon give up on their quests, Perrin journeys on with the aid of three magical horses till he reaches the Crystal Mountain, and the fairies within…
The Crystal Mountain has not simply a mere ‘happily ever after’ finish, but ends on a note that lets one’s mind drift on the possibilities, and for a nice change it is the female who decides her own fate (ie the Fairy of Red chooses to stay with Perrin, rather than him just carry her off) and the two elder brothers aren’t punished for their sloth, but rather are forgiven.
The Crystal Mountain is a must for fairytale lovers, a wonderful addition to a children’s library and delight for those who love beautiful picture books.