This was a mixed bag of tales. Some lived up to the advertising, others were less successful. One of the problems I had with some of the tales, is telling me how smart the protagonist is, and then all she did was sprinkle magic fairy dust that she had from somewhere to solve all the villages problems. I realize it is more difficult to show instead of tell, in short tales, but maybe you can’t have short fairy tales that cannot be shown, but must be told. I did enjoy the story Janet Burd (a Tam Lin variation), as well as the Mollee Whoppee story.
The Pevensie siblings travel back to Narnia to help a prince denied his rightful throne as he gathers an army in a desperate attempt to rid his land of a false king. But in the end, it is a battle of honor between two men alone that will decide the fate of an entire world.
A battle is about to begin in Prince Caspian, the fourth book in C. S. Lewis’s classic fantasy series, which has been enchanting readers of all ages for over sixty years. This is a stand-alone novel, but if you would like to see more of Lucy and Edmund’s adventures, read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the fifth book in The Chronicles of Narnia.
This was an enjoyable steam-punk retelling of Cinderella. Cinder is a cyborg mechanic who can’t remember her life before the accident that claimed her parents and made it medically necessary to replace her leg and other parts with machinery. She was adopted but her new guardian dies before he is able to bring her home to his wife and daughters and tell them why he has adopted a cyborg child. She works to make money for her stepmother and keep their household afloat though they treat her like a servant.
A plague is running rampant throughout their country and attacking young and old, rich and poor alike. Her favorite sister becomes ill days before a ball is planned. She tries to encourage her sister by telling her how she met the prince when he brought an automaton to her shop for repair and how he invited her to the ball. She promises to get the prince to dance with her sister if she will just get better and be able to go to the ball.
The prince has troubles of his own. His father is gravely ill with the plague. The ruler of Mars is on her way with an entourage to discuss peace talks that all his advisers believe is a prelude to war. Of course, the prince could marry the queen of Mars and make her his Empress ensuring peace but would that really be the best thing for both planets?
When an evil magician needs Aladdin to fetch a magic lamp, Aladdin is too smart for him. But the magician soon wants his revenge. And, the Youngest-of All tried to please her two sisters. But they want to spoil her happiness. Can she still marry her beloved prince?
Another delightful retelling of a fairy tale by Jessica Day George, this time, we revisit the story Cinderella. In this version it is the Fairy Godmother who is wicked, and Eleanora (Cinderella) is but a victim. The protagonist is Poppy one of the Twelve Dancing Princesses from an earlier book. I think I must read all of this author’s books – they are enchanting!
A proper Empire wants a border and currency and some who are high and some who are low. And a really proper Empire, the best and most enviable kind of Empire, has Criminals. You’re not doing Empire right if there aren’t loads of people who don’t like it one bit!
A silent Library is a sad Library. A Library without patrons on whom to pile books and tales and knowing and magazines full of up-to-the-minute politickal fashions and atlases and plays in pentameter! A Library should be full of exclamations! Shouts of delight and horror as the wonders of the world are discovered or the lies of the heavens uncovered or the wild adventures of devil-knows-who sent romping out of the pages. A Library should be full of now-just-a-minutes and that-can’t-be-rights and scientifick folk running skelter to prove somebody wrong. It should positively vibrate with laughing at comedies and sobbing at tragedies, it should echo with gasps as decent ladies glimpse indecent things and indecent ladies stumble upon secret and scandalous decencies! A Library should not shush; it should roar!
Oh, every place has a Pluto! It’s where a universe keeps the polar bears and last year’s pickled entropy and the spare gravity. You need a Pluto or you’re hardly a universe at all. Plutos teach lessons. A lesson is like a time-traveling argument. Because, you see, you can’t argue until you’ve had the lesson or else you’re just squabbling with your own ignorance. But a lesson is really just the result of arguments other people had ages ago! You have to sit still and pay attention and pantomime their arguments over again until you’re so sick of their prattle that you pipe up to have your own. You can’t learn anything without arguing.
Going straight in a line to anything is the saddest path.
Blood is a word that means alive. You can do without almost anything: arms, legs, teeth, hope. But you can’t do without blood. Life eats life. Blood makes you move, makes you blush, makes the pulse pound in your brow when you see your love walking across a street toward you, makes you r very thoughts fly through your brain. Blood is everything and everything is blood.
Living is a paragraph, constantly rewritten. It is Grown-Up Magic. Children are heartless; their parents hold them still, squirming and shouting, until a heart can get going in their little lawless wilderness. Teenagers crash their hearts into every hard and thrilling thing to see what will give and what will hold. And Grown-Ups, when they are very good, when they are very lucky, and very brave, and their wishes are sharp as scissors, when they are in the fullness of their strength, use their hearts to start their stories over again.
Family is a transitive property.
Love is a Yeti. It is bigger than you and frightening and terrible. it makes loud and vicious noises. It is hungry all the time. it has horns and teeth and the fore of its fists is more than anyone can bear. It speeds up time and slows it down. And it has its own aims and missions that those who are lucky enough to see it cannot begin to guess. You might see a Yeti once in your life or never. You might live in a village of them. But in the end, no matter how fast you think you can go, the Yeti is always faster than you, and you can only choose how you say hello to it, and whether you shake its hand.
I think that about sums it all up. Read this series, you won’t be sorry. It is a literary delight.
Odd is a kid who smiles all the time, even after his father dies. The village people do Not understand him. Then he attempts to use his father’s giant axe, and in the process injures his leg; he builds himself a crutch and drags himself home. His mother remarries a man who doesn’t care for Odd. But Odd perseveres, using the talents he has, he is able to help out the Norse gods, Odin, Loki, and Thor, who have been turned into different animals. This was a fun short read.
A reinterpretation of Snow White. In this fractured version, the protagonist, an innkeeper’s daughter, is a larger girl who is sometimes treated poorly by other people because of her looks. However, she has the most beautiful voice in the kingdom. This was well written and challenged our culture’s obsession with good looks, asking the reader to question our assumptions we make based on physical attractiveness.
A satire on Political Correctness covering a number of common fairy tales. In one the helpful woodsman gets his head chopped off, for intruding and doubting that Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf, couldn’t work out their own problems. It was ok, I did learn some things about discrimination and different ways of viewing the world.
A wonderful entrancing story! a hobgoblin, trades places with the real Henry Day, getting a chance to life out a human life, after waiting about 100 years for his turn. The previous Henry Day, now renamed Anaday, struggles to make sense of his world, and to fit in with the band of hobgoblins. Both characters struggle to figure out what to do with the lives that they have. I like the fact that Donohue took a familiar narrative, that of the stolen/exchanged child, and tackled deeper questions of what it means to live a meaningful life. This book reminded me of both and Kazuo Ishiguro’s “Never Let me Go” as well as Adam Phillips’ book Missing Out (which had too much psychoanalysis for me to finish).
Mix equal parts Alice in Wonderland and Wizard of Oz, stir with a Victorian pen filled with modern ink, and soon the outline of this exceptional fairy tale starts to form. September, a twelve year old from Omaha, Nebraska, is swept away to Fairyland by the Green Wind, and eventually ends up Circumnavigating Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making for a purpose which I won’t spoil. What happens between these events is some truly inventive, wildly imaginative wordplay, filled with classic (and very strange) characters, and off-kilter plot developments which can only take place in Fairyland. This is both a bright and cruel place to live, two sides which are contrasted, compared, and even mixed throughout the book.
Normally, it takes a Terry Pratchett or a Neil Gaiman to get me to tap my wife on the shoulder, and repeat sentences aloud. I was sharing bits and pieces from this tale the entire time I read it. Highly recommended.
The Wild is real and it is hiding under Julie’s bed. It likes to steal her shoes, but other than that it is manageable. Julie lives with her mom Rapunzel and her brother Puss in Boots. Her grandma Goethel owns the Wishing Well Hotel. All the characters are happy to have escaped into the real world, but then someone sets the Wild free and suddenly everyone is trapped in the stories again. It is up to Julie to figure out how to set them free again. She has to work around the stories and try to not get caught in one. An ending will mean the end of Julie and her life.
I really enjoy reading fractured fairy tales and this one didn’t disappoint. It was fun and entertaining. I loved how Durst wove all the fairy tale stories together and made them real. Julie is the perfect hero for our story; she is spunky and smart and determined. I really enjoyed trying to identify the stories as she came upon them in the Wild.
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow is the retelling of the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon. George does a fantastic job with this reimagining. I am not really familiar with the original tale, but I loved it! This is the story of Pikka, the ninth child of a poor woodcutter family. Her mother was so disgusted at having another worthless daughter that she didn’t give her a name. The girl’s life changes when she catches a white reindeer and it gives her a name and the ability to speak to animals. It changes further when the isbjorn (the white bear) asks her to come live in his palace for a year. The palace is made of ice and filled with strange creatures and markings. The girl finds herself drawn into the isbjorn’s world and wants to find out more about his curse. When he is taken away to marry the troll princess she must find the palace east of the sun and west of the moon to save her true love.
I loved this story. I loved the fact that it was filled with Norse mythology and Norse words. I am fascinated by this culture even though I know little about it. Pikka is a strong girl despite the treatment she receives from her mother. She is brave and is filled with drive and spirit; just the kind of heroine I like in my books.
This is a humorous take on 30 familiar fairy tales and fables where Cinderella and Pinocchio have attitude, the Little Mermaid has really bad luck, and Little Red Riding Hood karate kicks the big bad wolf all the way back to his house.
Apparently the Harlequin is a stock character in European and British theater specifically, the Commedia dell’Arte format – along with a whole host of other characters – including Columbine – his love interest. In this retelling of the Harlequin’s usual story, Gaiman adds a twist to the standard narrative. Even though I was not familiar with the standard narrative, I could see that giving the woman powers and moving her into a main character status is a twist on the standard narrative where the woman is often the object, and Not the subject. Interesting piece.
Cress is the third installment in the Lunar Chronicles (Cinder and Scarlet) and might just be my favorite so far. I loved how all of the characters from the previous books came together and how the final book (Winter) is set up. This is such a creative and fun series that it really sucks to have to wait a year between books.
Cress, our title character, is a young Lunar null who has been exiled to a satellite between Lunar and Earth. She is tasked with spying on Earth and reporting back to her mistress. However, Cress has become fascinated with everything Earthen and instead of turning Cinder and her band over to the Lunars she has decided to help them. Her rescue attempt goes awry however leaving Wolf injured, Scarlet kidnapped and Cress and Thorne falling out of the sky in a disabled satellite. Cinder is still determined to stop the wedding of Kai and Levana and take her place as Princess Selena.
I devoured this book in a day despite its size. Once I started reading it I couldn’t put it down. I love how Meyer wove the traditional Rapunzel tale into Cress’s story. I really enjoyed her introduction to Earth and her infatuation with Captain Thorne. This book progresses the story of this series really well. Everyone moved forward and things are lined up perfectly for Winter, which I can’t wait to come out. I really can’t say enough about how much I love this series!
“M is for magic. All the letters are, if you put them together properly.” This tasty tidbit is from Neil Gaiman’s introduction to the book, and wonderfully sums up my view of most of his writing. He has a way of stringing letters together which makes the mundane magical, or at the least, a bit odd. I like a bit odd, and so enjoyed this collection of short stories. It also was interesting to compare stories written earlier in his career to more recent ones, both of which are in this collection. I had read a couple of these tales before, and one in particular (The Witch’s Headstone) became a chapter in Gaiman’s 2009 Newbery winner, The Graveyard Book. Short stories are a great introduction to an author, and so if you are one of the five people not familiar with Neil Gaiman, this collection is a decent place to start. Although it is a collection intended for younger readers, the content is pretty mature, including older cultural references I doubt young readers will understand.