When Things Get Lively

Whether you look at Grimm’s Fairy Tales or even go back as far as Rabelais, there is no dearth of things that live a life of their own, be they rambling pancakes or other sausages at large. Hans Christian Andersen wrote a series of fairy tales whose protagonists are inanimate objects that are very much alive, as did Stanislav Lem, Franz Hohler and Lemony Snicket. Aljosha Blau has created some truly magical illustrations allowing the beholder to immerse him- and herself in a world where things have come alive/into their own.

It was in the Romantic period that poets first began deliberately to tell stories about living things, partly because they knew these tales would appeal to children and also because they wanted adults to hark back to their own childhood. But when it comes to fairy tales whose heroes are not human beings but things, the palm must certainly go to Hans Christian Andersen. Unlike Andersen’s tales, which always carry a message, a moral, those of his latter-day successors, Franz Hohler and Erwin Moser, to name but two, appear to be utter nonsense. For all that they wreak the most delightful havoc on our staid and stolid assumptions about reality. Stanislav Lem’s fairy tales about robots are even more unsettling – here man-made things, to wit robots, look down their metallic noses at mankind, just as enlightened humanity looks down at inanimate matter. In Lemony Snicket’s stories there’s no room for superiority for either humans or things; they’ve become friends instead.

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By the same artist

When Little Hare shot the Sheriff

The Sheriff is dead! And Little Hare, of all animals, is supposed to be the one who shot the wicked villain. The forest echos with cheers, and Little Hare is ...

When Little Hare dismissed the Captain

Little Hare, Matt Bear and their friends have decided to turn their backs on the forest and to emigrate to Majorca. Downstream they go, sailing with their raft, towards the ...


Further information

  • Rights on illustrations, idea, title and collection available, no text rights.

Aljoscha Blau

Aljoscha Blau, born in Leningrad in 1972, has lived in Germany since 1990. He studied graphics and illustration, specializing in children’s books and books for adolescents. His numerous awards include the Bologna Ragazzi Award, the Troisdorfer Kinderbuchpreis and (twice!) the Deutscher Jugendliteraturpreis (German Youth Literature Award). He lives in Berlin with his family.

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