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The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty

by Jane Yolen

Age Range: 9 - 12

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-399-25664-6
Publisher: Philomel

Despite its misleading cover image of Sleeping Beauty, this is quite a nice back story as to how and why that last fairy was late to her christening.

Yolen takes off from a handful of short stories she published in the mid-1980s and engages readers with the voice of Gorse, the 13th fey of the title, youngest child of her Irish Elven father and her mother, who is of the Shouting Fey. Despite her heritage, magic—using it or even being around it—always makes Gorse ill. She is sick when the rest of the family is called to the fateful christening, and her hurrying, late, with a magic spindle for a gift lands her down a hole—with allusions to both Alice's rabbit hole and a wormhole—with a prince and his loyal companion. These two have been imprisoned together in caves inhabited by a furry and smelly lot of creatures for generations. The relationship between Grey and Orybon is silken with loyalty and betrayal, and Yolen studies it carefully through Gorse’s eyes. They expect Gorse to rid them of the curse that keeps them imprisoned, and she does, although not in the way anyone expects. The pages are peppered with subtle references to everything from Lord of the Rings to Emily Dickinson, and Gorse grows in both cleverness and thoughtfulness as the story unwinds.

A graceful and absorbing look at a familiar villain. (Fairy tale/fantasy. 9-12)