Wow! This has never been one of my favorite HC Andersen stories. Even I, who enjoy a bit of grit and gore with my fairy tales and certainly don't demand a tidy moral, have always found this story more than just a bit squirm-worthy. This book changed my mind completely!
It is still a wacky, brutal, immoral story, but I LOVE it. I would say that it's due almost entirely to the illustrations which are beyond fantastic - somehow making the three huge eyed dogs both grotesque and adorable at the same time.
However, I think much of the appeal also has a lot to do with Stephen Mitchell's retelling. I love Andersen, really I do, but some of his stories really can be a drag. Mitchell somehow made this story fun and lighthearted and I really don't know how he did that given how much bizarre and unnecessary violence takes place. Ah, the power of words!
A little sample of Ibatoulline's awesomeness:
Check out more at his official website: http://www.bagramibatoulline.com/