A battered copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales that had belonged to her father was one of Ruth Sanderson’s favorite books while growing up. In 1985, she illustrated her first fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty, beautifully retold by author and folklorist Jane Yolen, who also posed as the sleeping cook in the story. Interested in working in a painterly style when illustrating for children’s books, she wanted to create images for all ages, particularly since fairy tales were never meant to be for children only.
“Oils have always been my favorite medium, perfect for the depth and the sense of light that I was planning to depict in the illustrations,” Sanderson said. “Having a long deadline helped with planning for drying time.” The artist has always been interested in fairy tale retellings for older readers, and how writers expand these stories in interesting ways. “Fairy tales can be read and understood on so many levels, and that is one of the reasons why I love to illustrate them.”