Whimsical Tarot by Dorothy Morrison; Art by Mary Hanson-Roberts    
Review by Diane Wilkes

If you'd like to buy the Whimsical Tarot Deck/Book set, click here.

If you'd like to buy the Whimsical Tarot Deck, click here.

If you'd like to buy only the companion book to the Whimsical Tarot Deck, click here.

When the topic of child-friendly tarot decks arises in conversation (and you'd be surprised how often it does), people often cite the Hanson-Roberts as a likely candidate.  Personally, I think the Devil card in that deck is more frightening than the Rider-Waite-Smith version, but maybe that's just me.  Be that as it may, the majority of the Hanson-Roberts deck, with its rosy-cheeked child Pages and benign, rustic scenes does seem to be child-appropriate.

All of which to say, the concept of choosing Mary Hanson-Roberts to illustrate Dorothy Morrison's deck based on fairy tales and myths seems natural, even inspired.  Alas, what so often seems like an inspired idea doesn't always translate successfully to reality.  When the rubber meets the road, you often end up with a flat tire.  Fortunately, in the case of the Whimsical Tarot, the result has been a smashing success (to continue--sort of--with our automobile analogy).  

 In terms of being suitable for use with children, I'd have to give the Whimsical Tarot an A+.  Cards that are traditionally alarming, aren't.   Death shows Sleeping Beauty slumbering peacefully on her bed, guaranteed to awaken when the Prince arrives (and this deck convinces you that he will--there's a fairy tale for you).  The individual in the Nine of Swords may have woken up with a headache, but there's always Advil.  The Tower shows the wolf a-huffing and a-puffing, but he's dressed so adorably that you just want to pinch his chubby cheeks.  Even the Devil isn't fearsome--the image of a puppeteer's hands directing what could be Pinocchio (hard to tell--we only see his back) is only scary when you've dealt with one-too-many manipulative adults.  The only deck I have seen that is as clever and suitable for children is the Lerners' Inner Child Tarot.  Both decks use story, fairy tales, and myth, with each card based on such classic fables as The Wizard of Oz and Cinderella.

The Whimsical Tarot is incredibly--maybe excessively--cute.  The Five of Pentacles displays The Ugly Duckling in a way that even Scrooge would have to say, "Awwww."   I love the match of this story with this card.  Another great correlation is the Princess and the Pea with the Four of Swords, and the imagery out-Disneys Disney--it's the Little Mermaid on a canopied bed.   The Nine of Cups, often referred to as the "wish card,"  offers a beaming genie who emerges from the smoke of Aladdin's Lamp.  Even Robin Williams' smile isn't as infectious.  

Kimberly Schwartz got the list of deck-story correlations from Dorothy Morrison, and posted them to Comparative Tarot.   They are as follows:

0. The Fool: The Scarecrow [The Wizard of Oz]
1. The Magician: Puss 'n Boots
2. The High Priestess: The Fairy Godmother [Cinderella]
3. The Empress: The Old Woman in the Shoe
4. The Emperor: Santa Clause/Father Winter
5. The Hierophant: Friar Tuck
6. The Lovers: Beauty and the Beast
7. The Chariot: Cinderella's Pumpkin Coach
8. Strength: Little Bo Peep
9. The Hermit: The Sandman
10. The Wheel of Fortune: The Flax
11. Justice: Goldilocks and the Three Bears
12. The Hanged One: The Fishwife
13. Death: Sleeping Beauty
14. Temperance: Jack and Jill
15. The Devil: The PuppetMaster from Pinnochio
16. The Tower: The Three Little Pigs
17. The Star: The Blue Fairy from Pinnochio
18. The Moon: Hey Diddle Diddle, the Cat and the Fiddle
19. The Sun: Tinkerbell
20. Judgement: Jiminy Cricket from Pinnochio



King: Arthur
Queen: Guinevere
Knight: Sir Lancelot
Page: A crystal ball
Ten: Snow White, the Prince and the Seven Dwarves -
Nine: The Genie from Aladdin's Lamp
Eight: Little Miss Muffett
Seven: A road that forks in many different directions
Six: Peter Pan and Wendy
Five: Captain Hook
Four: The Emperor's New Clothes
Three: Rubadubdub, Three men in a tub
Two: The Owl and the PussyCat
Ace: Silver goblet


King: Prince Charming
Queen: Cinderella
Knight: Jack Be Nimble, Jack Be Quick
Page: A Royal Announcement
Ten: The Goose Girl
Nine: Little Boy Blue
Eight: Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Seven: Jack and the Beanstalk
Six: Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz clicking her ruby red slippers and finally going home
Five: Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby
Four: A fairy tale castle with lots of towers and turrets
Three: Stone Soup
Two: The lion and the mouse
Ace: Crystal ball-tipped walking staff


King: The Wood Cutter from Little Red Riding Hood
Queen: Little Red Riding Hood
Knight: Brer Fox
Page: An old-fashioned telescope
Ten: Humpty Dumpty
Nine: Rapunzel
Eight: Rip Van Winkle
Seven: The Knave of Hearts
Six: Wynken, Blynken and Nod
Five: The Pied Piper
Four: The Princess and the Pea
Three: Hansel and Gretel
Two: Hansel and Gretel
Ace: Excaliber-type sword


King: Robin Hood
Queen: Maid Marian
Knight: Tom Thumb
Page: stacks of coins, a piece of parchment and a quill pen
Ten: The Golden Bird
Nine: A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow
Eight: The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Seven: Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary
Six: the Cobbler and the Elves
Five: The Ugly Duckling
Four: The Dog and His Bone
Three: Rumplestiltskin
Two: Jack Sprat
Ace: Large grapevined pentacle

Some of the correspondences are obvious and delightful; others make me long for the book by Dorothy Morrison to be published (my understanding is that it will be out in April of 2001) so that I can better apply the story to the card.

I have always loved the rich hues of the Hanson-Roberts, and expected the Whimsical Tarot to have a similar coloration.  Instead, the artist has gone pastel in a big way (if a deck had a holiday, this one would definitely be Eostre).  The reversible backs show a violet flower bordered by celtic knotwork and each card is bordered prettily.  This deck has the gentlest energy I have ever seen.    

To be honest, though, I prefer the darker, more intense colors of the Hanson-Roberts, and I am not that big on gentle energy.   I never, ever do anything nice...and easy...Oh, no, I'm channeling Tina Turner. 

Sorry about that.  

But while this is a deck I would definitely use with children, I doubt that I will use the Whimsical Tarot on a regular basis.  I can recommend this deck to anyone who wants a good deck to use with children, or likes using a Rider-Waite-Smith-esque deck with story correspondences.   It will also appeal to gentle souls, ones who don't have Pluto in the first house squaring a Moon-Mars conjunction in Scorpio.

If you'd like to buy the Whimsical Tarot Deck/Book set, click here.

If you'd like to buy the Whimsical Tarot Deck, click here.

If you'd like to buy only the companion book to the Whimsical Tarot Deck, click here.

Whimsical Tarot by Dorothy Morrison and Mary Hanson-Roberts
Publisher: US Games
ISBN#: 1572812532

Art 2001 Mary Hanson-Roberts
Review and page 2001 Diane Wilkes



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