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Home > Children's Books > Princess Sophie and the Six Swans

cover of Princess Sophie and the Six Swans
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Princess Sophie
and the Six Swans:

A Tale from the Brothers Grimm
retold & illustrated by: Kim Jacobs
Subject(s): Age level:

Juvenile Fiction / Fairy Tales

4 & up

Format: Size / page count:


8" × 10" / 40 pages

ISBN: Date available:


Available now



Princess Sophie, the spirited young heroine of this adapted tale from the Brothers Grimm, finds herself faced with an incredible challenge and some lessons to learn. She had forgotten her departed mother's warning to temper loyalty and strength with a compassionate heart. Antagonized by Sophie's resentful words, her powerful new stepmother turns Sophie’s six brothers into swans and sets her the task of saving them. Will Sophie succeed in helping her brothers? Can she spin six shirts made from the thorny thistle, while never speaking a word, even in her defense? And what will happen when King Yoren captures Sophie and takes her prisoner? Featuring stunning artwork by renowned illustrator Kim Jacobs, her retelling of this classic Brothers Grimm fairytale also contains an author's note with fascinating details on family heraldry and mute swans.
Awards & Honors
  • Finalist in the “Best Interior Design” category of the 2018 Best Book Awards
  • Finalist in the “Children's Picture Book: Hardcover Fiction” category of the 2018 Best Book Awards
  • Finalist in the 2018 Maine Literary Awards
  • Finalist in the 2017 Foreword INDIES Awards in the category “Picture Books, Early Reader”


“When her six brothers are turned into swans by their wicked stepmother, Princess Sophie must endure physical and emotional trials to save them in this warmly illustrated version of the classic fairy tale. The seamless interplay of words and images makes the picture-book format ideal for providing narrative clarity as well as nuance to the central relationships that seem abstract in the original story. Jacobs’ alterations allot Sophie far more agency than the passive heroine of the Grimm’s version possesses, transforming the white princess into a passionate and tenacious girl who is unafraid of hard work and sacrifice in an effort to right a wrong. Her friendship with her brothers is well-depicted, making her great sacrifice reflective of her strong sense of character rather than familial obligation or feminine duty. Jacobs—an illustrator writing for the first time—has a masterful eye for colors and skillfully employs them to reflect the mood of a scene and drive the narrative. The dreamlike quality of the illustrations makes this version an ideal bedtime story; misty blues symbolize Sophie’s loneliness and isolation as she sews her brothers’ shirts, while the delicate swirl of rainbow color renders the brothers’ transformations especially magical. A charming adaptation with a solid moral and a heroine whom little girls and boys can look up to. (Picture book/fairy tale. 4-8)”
Kirkus Reviews

“The story of the six brothers transformed into swans by a jealous and wicked stepmother is one of the best loved Grimm tales, although, as the author says in her note, it was around long before the Grimms included it in their collection. The feisty and determined sister, now named Sophie, is a fully fleshed-out character whose commitment to saving her brothers, even at great pain and eventually danger to her own life, will inspire admiration. The painterly illustrations are lovely and capture a real sense of ‘Once upon a time, long ago and far away.’ The colors are soft and have an ethereal quality. VERDICT: A solid addition to most folklore collections. Suitable as a read-aloud or for independent reading across elementary levels.”
School Library Journal

“In this Grimm tale, an evil stepmother casts a spell and transforms six brothers into swans. They will remain swans until their sister, Princess Sophie, sews them shirts from thorny thistles. She must remain silent until her task is completed, or the princes will remain swans forever. Long story short: Princess Sophie loyally remains silent, despite dire circumstances; she marries a king and finishes most of the shirts, leading to a happy ending for all—except for the one brother who ends up with one arm and one wing. What makes this retelling fresh and new is that the story is told in first person from Sophie’s viewpoint. Readers see the loving, laughing relationship she shares with her brothers; Sophie’s tart tongue and rebellious nature prompt the curse of required silence, and she falls in love with the king because he sings to her. The lavish illustrations in muted, dreamlike colors sweep across pages, making this a very attractive addition to the folklore canon and a natural choice for storytime.”
Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association

Videos Related to the Book (hide/show)

The Book Trailer Video for
Princess Sophie and the Six Swans

Watch the video below to get a visual summary of the pages in the book.

sample spread from the book “Princess Sophie and the Six Swans”, by Kim Jacobs

A sample page spread from the fairy tale book Princess Sophie and the Six Swans,
retold from the Brothers Grimm story, and illustrated, by Kim Jacobs

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