Source: Borrowed from Library


Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter by Diane Stanley | Children’s Book Review

September 15, 2017 Children's Book Review, Inner Child 0 ★★★★

Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter by Diane Stanley | Children’s Book ReviewRumpelstiltskin's Daughter by Diane Stanley
Published by HarperCollins on May 28, 2002
Genres: Fairy Tale, Retelling
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed from Library
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4 Stars
Once upon a time a miller's daughter was given an impossible task by a cruel and greedy king. She had to spin straw into gold. And who should show up to help her but an odd little man named Rumpelstiltskin.

According to tradition, the gold-bedazzled king and the miller's daughter are wed. But wait just a minute! This king is definitely not husband material, and there's someone else who is -- a hardworking guy who's supportive and nice looking, and who really comes through in a pinch.

Why not marry Rumpelstiltskin?

In Diane Stanley's merry rethinking of the traditional tale, Rumpelstiltskin and the miller's daughter are wed...and then sixteen years later their only daughter is stuck in the same dilemma: She's been locked in a room full of straw to spin for a greedy king! She could call for help from her father, but this fairy-tale heroine has some canny plans of her own.

How Rumpelstiltskin's daughter sets things to rights in the troubled kingdom, while achieving a unique place for herself, makes for a wise and witty tale of kindness and cleverness rewarded. Diane Stanley's wickedly funny text and zesty illustrations put a delightful new spin on a classic fairy tale.

Rumpelstiltskin's daughter may not be able to spin straw into gold, but she is more than a match for a monarch whose greed has blighted an entire kingdom.

We learn that Rumpelstiltskin’s daughter’s name is Hope, which is such a fitting name for her because of what she does for the kingdom. She brings them hope in the form of golden coins so that they can make their own living. When Hope is kidnapped by the king and forced to turn straw into gold in her mother’s old tower, she decides to be smart instead. She knows the kingdom is poor and struggling, so she tricks the king into hiring the townspeople to “grow” or “knit” gold for him. The fields fill up with wheat and the townspeople end up bundled up in golden clothing. These people end up loving the king so much that he discovers that is better than gold. He tears down the protective wall around the castle and builds houses for the poor. All of a sudden, the kingdom is prospering. The king is so happy that he decides to make Hope his wife. She suggests the alternative of becoming Prime Minister instead, so that she can keep an eye on everyone. A feminist fairytale, indeed.

The illustrations are very fun, and sometimes even funny. I really enjoyed read this story, and love the unique spin that was placed on it. I’ve never been much of a fan of the traditional tale of Rumpelstiltskin, but I did find this fractured version to be fresh and fun, with teachable moments and good messages. I’d recommend it to anyone who enjoys a fresh spin on an old classic.


Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale | Graphic Novel Review

September 13, 2017 Book Review, Graphic Novel 0 ★★★

Rapunzel’s Revenge by Shannon Hale | Graphic Novel ReviewRapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on August 5, 2008
Genres: Retelling
Pages: 144
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed from Library
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3 Stars
Once upon a time, in a land you only think you know, lived a little girl and her mother . . . or the woman she thought was her mother.

Every day, when the little girl played in her pretty garden, she grew more curious about what lay on the other side of the garden wall . . . a rather enormous garden wall.

And every year, as she grew older, things seemed weirder and weirder, until the day she finally climbed to the top of the wall and looked over into the mines and desert beyond.

Newbery Honor-winning author Shannon Hale teams up with husband Dean Hale and brilliant artist Nathan Hale (no relation) to bring readers a swashbuckling and hilarious twist on the classic story as you've never seen it before. Watch as Rapunzel and her amazing hair team up with Jack (of beanstalk fame) to gallop around the wild and western landscape, changing lives, righting wrongs, and bringing joy to every soul they encounter.

Here we have a wild western retelling of the classic Rapunzel. Rapunzel lives in a walled-up city with her mother, Gothel, before climbing the wall and realizing how horrible things are on the outside. She also discovers that Gothel is not her real mother and goes on an adventure with a man named Jack to try and free the people of Gothel’s evil magic.

This story has a lot of elements that are the same as the original Rapunzel. Rapunzel was taken from her parents because the stole Gothel’s lettuce, Rapunzel has very long hair that she uses to her benefit, there is a handsome man along for the ride, and she is thrown into an isolated tower. In this version, though, her mother his been imprisoned, and the story takes place in the Wild West. Rapunzel is very feisty and brave, whereas most renditions depict her as a helpless, naïve girl who can’t take care of herself and does not understand the concept of evil. She goes up against gun carrying vigilantes, thieves, monsters, and scary situations. This time the man sits in the back seat and has to be saved. I loved seeing a fairytale heroine with a brain, who can hold her own and get things done. The illustrations are very well done and are infused with color, perspective, and a ton of detail. Children who enjoyed the original story of Rapunzel or Disney’s Tangled will enjoy this fractured version of the tale.


The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep | Children’s Book Review

March 16, 2017 Children's Book Review, Inner Child 5 ★★★★★

The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep | Children’s Book ReviewThe Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty & the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep
and illustrated by Kam Mak
Published by HarperCollins on January 9, 1999
Genres: Classic, Fairy Tale, Retelling
Pages: 32
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed from Library
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5 Stars
When a poor farmer falls into the clutches of a dragon, only Seven, his youngest daughter, will save him—by marrying the beast.

Publishers Weekly praised "Yep's elegant, carefully crafted storytelling" and Mak's "skillfully and radiantly rendered illustrations" in this captivating and luminous Chinese variation of the beauty and the beast tale.

The Dragon Prince by Laurence Yep is the Chinese version of Beauty and the Beast, and is so rich in culture. Inside the book the author includes his source notes, explaining that this tale is a Southern Chinese version of the classic. He also thanks Truly Shay for helping him translate several tales for him. Immediately, I felt confident that this book would be of very high quality because of the proof of research.

This tale is written in a way that sounds natural when read aloud, and the text is very traditional and stylistically magical. The story includes cultural elements that seem true to the area in which it takes place, including the fact that it’s about a rice farmer and his daughters, a serpent for a beast (that becomes a dragon), the term bride prince is used, and the palace is located in an underwater garden under the ocean’s surface. The story takes an interesting spin, and Seven’s (the Beauty equivalent) sister attempts to drown her and take her place. The prince can tell, though, and searches to find his lost Seven. They live happily ever after.

Elegant silk robes, jade cups, and gold plates are illustrated. The illustrations themselves are reminiscent of Chinese style, with bright colors, Chinese architecture and clothing, and a stylized dragon. The prince speaks of the traditional Chinese custom of brides visiting their families after their wedding.

 

Oh my goodness, I love this version of Beauty and the Beast so much. The Chinese culture, colors, and design influences make it not only entertaining, but a rich, educational, vibrant tale that anyone would love. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves China, Beauty and the Beast, beautiful illustrations, and learning about other cultures!


Beauty and the Beast by Marianna Mayer | Children’s Book Review

March 15, 2017 Children's Book Review, Inner Child 2 ★★★★★

Beauty and the Beast by Marianna Mayer | Children’s Book ReviewBeauty and the Beast by Marianna Mayer
and illustrated by Mercer Mayer
Published by Aladdin Paperbacks on September 1978
Genres: Classic, Fairy Tale
Pages: 48
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed from Library
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5 Stars
Generations of children have been fascinated by the story of the girl named Beauty, who grows to love a fearsome beast by learning to see and cherish his kindness, generosity, and intelligence. In this acclaimed, best-selling version of the classic tale, first published in 1978, Marianna Mayer's evocative imagery and Mercer Mayer's exquisite paintings transport readers into a world of pure magic and mystery.

I really, really loved this beautifully illustrated version of the classic Beauty and the Beast tale. I can’t believe it’s out of print because I would LOVE to own a copy for my personal library. Anyway, this book was actually the very first time I read what the traditional tale was like rather than the Disney version. I felt that it was nicely simplified into a storybook for young children, although it might be a bit too long for the tiny littles to focus on. The story starts off with the words, “There once was a…”, reflecting traditional oral storytelling style. There are repeated refrains in this story of the beast pleading Beauty to marry him, and her refusing. There are also repeated story elements of Beauty having various dreams. The words are traditional in nature, and are not like how people speak today, so even though it’s a picture book I think readers of all ages would be drawn to it for one reason or another.

What really set this book apart for me, though, were the illustrations. I can’t believe the same person who wrote and illustrated the Little Critter books also illustrated this one! Mercer Mayer is truly a chameleon. The illustrations are very detailed and ornate, and match the colorful vocabulary and magical tone of the writing. Here are a few of my favorites. It was hard to not share more!

All in all, I loved this version of the story! I found the text to be more enjoyable than the original French tale, and the illustrations made for a very enjoyable reading experience. I’d definitely recommend this to fans of Beauty and the Beast, both young and old. It’s a lovely edition that I’m sure any collector would love to own as well.


The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni | Mini Book Review

September 15, 2014 Book Review, Young Adult 5 ★★★★★

The Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni | Mini Book ReviewThe Caged Graves by Dianne K. Salerni
Published by Clarion Books on May 14, 2013
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery
Pages: 329
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed from Library
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5 Stars
17-year-old Verity Boone expects a warm homecoming when she returns to Catawissa, Pennsylvania, in 1867, pledged to marry a man she has never met. Instead, she finds a father she barely knows and a future husband with whom she apparently has nothing in common. One truly horrifying surprise awaits her: the graves of her mother and aunt are enclosed in iron cages outside the local cemetery. Nobody in town will explain why, but Verity hears rumors of buried treasure and witchcraft. Perhaps the cages were built to keep grave robbers out . . . or to keep the women in. Determined to understand, Verity finds herself in a life-and-death struggle with people she trusted.

Inspired by a pair of real caged graves in present-day Catawissa, this historical YA novel weaves mystery, romance, and action into a suspenseful drama with human greed and passion at its core.

One of my friends recommended The Caged Graves to me after loving it so much. I’ll be honest, I was worried it would not be my thing. At the same time, though, I was very intrigued by the story, which was inspired by the author’s discovery of a pair of caged graves in Catawissa, Pennsylvania. Dianne K. Salerni could not find the answer to why these graves were caged, so she wrote the story she imagined might have happened. I decided to give this book a try, and I ended up really loving it. The Caged Graves did not hit me like a ton of bricks in the beginning. It was only AFTER I finished, and realized that I was thinking about it days later, that I discovered how much I enjoyed it.

I really love Gothic literature that incorporates mystery, history, and romance. The Caged Graves combines all of these things with a little suspense and hints of the paranormal. Ever since I read The Crucible by Arthur Miller I’ve been very intrigued by the history of witches that were heard of in the Northeastern states. This is a pretty substantial theme in The Caged Graves, which gave me yet another reason to pick it up. I quickly began to discover all these elements I so love reading about, and grew more and more excited with each page turn.

Verity is not your typical 19th Century girl, who sits by submissively as men plan out her life and tells her what to do. She’s got this modernized personality that was so refreshing to read about. She does not take no for an answer, she does not sit idly by and wonder, and she is far above the cattiness that frequently surfaces among southern belles in literature that covers this time period. She is stubborn and brave, and will not hesitate to put her nose in things others wish she would leave well enough alone. She’s not always prim and proper, and I love that about her. I’m pretty sure I’d be a lot like her if I lived in 19th Century America.

Nate, Verity’s husband-to-be, is your typical Southern gentleman. He’s sweet and chivalrous, and always seems to say the right things. That’s why I was not especially fond of him at first, though. I felt like he said everything he said because he felt it was the right thing to say, not necessarily because he wanted to say it. He did grow on me because I realized that that was how he was brought up. And he’s so NOT the smooth talking romantic. I laughed as he tripped over himself. I much preferred Hadley, the blunt doctor who had no problems going outside the societal norms, much like Verity. His concern and friendship towards Hadley in a town where everyone gave her odd glances and spoke to each other in hushed tones when she was around, was very endearing. As much as this situation sounds like a love triangle, it was a very realistic one. So often, today’s love triangles are self-inflicted either because the heroine can’t choose who she likes better, one of the heroes can’t accept that the heroine is taken, or vice versa. This love triangle is understandable, though, as Verity is torn between who she should like (because her dad wants her to) and who she wants to like.

I liked quite a few of the secondary characters as well, including Verity’s father who has no idea how to raise a teenage girl but is trying really hard to, as well as Beulah, Verity’s crotchety housemaid. Each character was very well written and stood apart from the rest. There’s a couple sweet moments where the idea of segregation dissolves and African Americans and whites come together to help and look out for one another. I was so happy to see this, especially during a time where racism was rampant.

The romance is very sweet and tender, yet understated. It was certainly not the entirety of the plot. I loved that it played a side role to Verity’s quest for learning the truth about her mother’s past. I liked that this book was not riddle with historical facts. There was just enough to allow me a sense of the time, but not so much that I felt bogged down by a history lesson. I really, really loved this story and would recommend it to anyone looking for something outside the normal equation of young adult literature. The Caged Graves reads like adult fiction but is centered around young people, making it a book that transcends age groups and can be enjoyed by all.


Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare | Mini Book Review

July 9, 2014 Adult Fiction, Book Review 13 ★★★

Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare | Mini Book ReviewRomancing the Duke by Tessa Dare
Series: Castles Ever After #1
Also in this series: Say Yes to the Marquess, When a Scot Ties the Knot
Published by Avon on January 28, 2014
Genres: Historical Romance, Romance
Pages: 370
Format: Paperback
Source: Borrowed from Library
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3 Stars
As the daughter of a famed author, Isolde Ophelia Goodnight grew up on tales of brave knights and fair maidens. She never doubted romance would be in her future, too. The storybooks offered endless possibilities.

And as she grew older, Izzy crossed them off. One by one by one.

Ugly duckling turned swan?
Abducted by handsome highwayman?
Rescued from drudgery by charming prince?


No, no, and… Heh.

Now Izzy’s given up yearning for romance. She’ll settle for a roof over her head. What fairy tales are left over for an impoverished twenty-six year-old woman who’s never even been kissed?

This one.

This book is a very sweet, funny romance filled with sharp wit and awkward moments. I loved our bookish heroine, Izzy, who has lived her entire life in the shadow of her late father’s famous stories. As soon as she and the duke met, I knew I would be in for a very fun ride. These two have the best banter, and really know how to push one another’s buttons. Izzy inherits the duke’s castle, and he is NOT happy about it. But she is determined to stay in her new home and add a feminine touch to it before kicking him out. I love it! I really loved her spunk and her desire to stand up for herself. She’s not the typical historical romance heroine who lays down and takes it. She pushes right back. She’s such a good sport dealing with the extremely devoted fans of her father’s stories, who are a very eccentric and borderline insane. But I loved that too.

The duke is a really great hero because, even though he’s blind, he still acts as cocky and entitled as if he weren’t. It was pretty hilarious and interesting at the same time. I loved seeing him fall for Izzy’s personality and her inner beauty, rather than lusting after her looks. This is also a very uncommon thing in historical romances, and I found it to be a very exciting story element. He’s very romantic and thoughtful, and I could not help but smile at his bluntness. He loves trying to make Izzy blush. It worked on me!

Overall, Romancing the Duke was a sweet love story with a memorable couple. I’m excited to see where Tessa Dare takes this series next!