by Michael Buckley
I read this series not in order but it didn’t hurt the enjoyment since each story has its central conflict to resolve and there’s a nicely tied up ending for each one. This first story sets up the backdrop quite nicely, explaining how the fairy tale creatures (the Everafters) got to Ferryport Landing and how the sisters came to assist their grandmother in playing the detectives to capture the culprits in magical crimes. It’s all very clean, imaginative fun and beloved by many of my young readers.
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by Gail Carson Levine, a collection of six Princess Tales
I enjoyed pretty much every single story in this collection. Each one is inventive and fresh, with a lot of humor and just the right kind of twists from the original tales to maintain a high level of interest — even from this veteran fractured fairy tale reader. I only wish that the design and the title are not so incredibly girly because I believe like all Grimm tales, these stories can be equally appreciated by both genders, even if the focus on the tales is the yearning and seeking of that one and perfect match. The way Levine presents the relationships of the main characters stresses more on personalities and character compatibilities than some external or shallow physical attraction makes these tales solid choices for young readers.
by Adam Gidwitz
I really really enjoyed the journey into and out of the dark dark woods that is this book by a new comer of the Children’s books scene. To be honest, because I love and respect traditional fairy tales (mostly Grimms, Jacobs, with some Norse, Arabian Nights, and Russian tales thrown in) to such a degree, I get very suspicious and highly critical when it comes to authors playing with and retelling these tales.
I especially resent the ones that make light of these grim and dark and powerful tales and turn them into cutesy products.
That is not the case with Gidwitz’s offering. It is slated to be published in November and I simply can’t wait to report on it! The frame story, using Hansel and Greta, substituting them as protagonists in several Grimms fairy tales, works brilliantly. As the story progresses, the resemblance to the original versions of the tales is reduced: they are more and more fractured and eventually, you are offered a few original short tales by the current author — but the Faerie, unsettling, and dark tone of the fairy tales tradition remains. As the story follows less and less the constrain of the original tales, the readers who know these tales sense the strength of the two children, rebelling against a cage that tries to tie them down.
For readers who are not familiar with the original tales, they can still vividly experience the growth, physically, emotionally, and worldly of these two characters.
This is not a simple construct, stringing a bunch of fairy tales together, but a successful novel that has a lot to offer to its young readers.
I can’t wait to share the tales — the new and the old — with my students in the fall!
by Michael Gruber
This is a highly nuanced book, although toward the end the “message” is a bit too spelled-out for my taste. I kept feeling that this is not a book for children, but a cautionary tale for adults who plan to raise children of their own: the do’s and the don’t’s, through fantastic settings, vividly portrayed magical characters, and fairy tale re-envisionings. I’m not sure how well received this tale might be to a young reader who had not already loved the high fantasy genre or had not been familiar with the original stories. To me — it is entirely satisfying, being a mother, a fairy tale lover, and a fantasy fan.
What’s so remarkable of the book is Michael Gruber’s finely honed, poetic and yet not at all sappy tone. I thoroughly appreciate the talent and craftsmanship of his writing!
Written by Shannon and Dean Hale
Illustrated by Nathan Hale
Published by Bloomsbury USA, 2008
Middle Grades (3-6)
Lily just got back from summer camp and picked up this book in the living room. I read it last week and fell in love with the story, the characters, the illustrations, and the graphic novel design of the entire package. I was pleased to find that Lily couldn’t put the book down. After she finished it, we had a little chat. The one thing that surprised me was that in Lily’s mind, the setting isn’t all that unconventional for a Rapunzel tale while to me, the setting is one of the most intriguing features since I always placed Rapunzel as a European story set in the deep woods.
Here’s our chat:
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