Picture-book author/illustrator Martin (The Littlest Family’s Big Day, 2016, etc.) offers a reimagined chapter-book version of a lesser-known Grimm fairy tale, “Snow White and Red Rose.”
When their father fails to return from the woods, Snow, Rose, and their grieving mother must leave their wealthy home and move to a remote cabin in the woods. The sisters are opposite in temperament. “Rose pictured herself as a tidy bow, and Snow was a wild tangle.” Meandering off the path in the woods, they happen upon an Underground House, a curious library filled with objects rather than books and overseen by the Librarian, and a tunnel under tree roots that leads them to Ivo, a boy who grows mushrooms. Ivo tells them about the Menace of the Woods, who has caused many to disappear. The girls help a very cranky Little Man with backward-bending legs and a giant bear who is pursued by the Huntsman. Although the story nearly collapses under the weight and confusion of a horde of characters (the humans all apparently white), all is sorted out in the end. The writing is lyrical, with laudable word choice, alliteration, and imagery capturing the magic of the woods.
For lovers of fairy tales, this story of sisterhood, taking risks, and being kind is a physically beautiful book with an appealing cover and captivating full-color illustrations. (Fantasy. 8-12)