TOADS AND DIAMONDS by Heather Tomlinson


Age Range: 12 - 16
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Charles Perrault published the tale in 1695, and Robert D. San Souci and Jerry Pinkney brought it to the American South in The Talking Eggs (1988). Now here is a fleshed-out version of this folk motif that tells the story of two stepsisters and their fate-changing encounter with a goddess. One girl speaks with gems and flowers, the other with toads and snakes—gift or curse, depending on your viewpoint. Tropes of the genre are nicely twisted: Both girls are nicer than in the short versions, the worldbuilding has shallow roots in Mughal India and the ending is much kinder to the toad-speaking sister. The writing is fluid and the retelling clever. Third-person narration alternates between the two girls, allowing for a broad view of the land, culture and customs (including great descriptions of clothing) as well as the girls’ relationships. The story’s climax is a lulu, while the resolution is satisfying, if a little anticlimactic. A great read for fans of fairy-tale retellings, this book should be very popular with older tweens and teens. An author’s note contextualizes the telling. (Fairy tale. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-8050-8968-4
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2010


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