Lacks the nuance of such exemplars as Astrid Lindgren’s Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter (1983) or Sharon Creech’s The Castle...

READ REVIEW

THE GIRL IN THE TOWER

Will a beautiful young girl locked up in a tower be an ingredient in the spell to fulfill a wicked queen’s wish for beauty, or will she be the queen’s undoing?

Queen Bogdana longs for nothing more than to be beautiful, and she will stop at nothing to achieve her heart’s desire. Queen Bogdana, who is really an evil witch, has almost everything else. The magic spell that will make her beautiful requires two ingredients Bogdana does not have: “a feather from a living hummingbird and a strand of hair the color of darkness plucked from the head of a girl with eyes the color of lavender who had lived at least eleven years but no more than twelve.” As luck would have it, a newborn baby girl, Violet, fits the requirement, and the queen has Violet and her mother incarcerated in a tower until the appropriate time comes to obtain the strand of hair. The plot is set for the perfect fairy tale: an evil witch, greed, an innocent young girl, a devoted parent, and loyal friends. Ultimately, though, the undoing of this story lies in the bland, one-dimensional quality of its characters. Time passes easily reading the book, but it’s not enough to lift it above others in its well-populated genre.

Lacks the nuance of such exemplars as Astrid Lindgren’s Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter (1983) or Sharon Creech’s The Castle Corona (2007). (Fantasy. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8050-9513-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The tweaks deliver no real alterations, but the clothing and hairstyles may amuse.

DAVID ROBERTS' DELIGHTFULLY DIFFERENT FAIRY TALES

Three classic fairy tales given 20th- (and 30th-) century settings.

Originally published separately between 2001 and 2016, the stories are massaged in ways that tone down the violence of pre-Disney versions and show off the illustrator’s chops as a caricaturist. In “Cinderella” (2001), the scenes are filled with flamboyant art deco fashions and details; the fairy godmother creates a snazzy limo to take young Greta to the ball; and rosebud-lipped, pointy-nosed evil stepsisters Ermintrude and Elvira survive unmutilated. Similarly, in “Rapunzel” (2003), the title character escapes her mid-1970s flat to run off with (unblinded) pop musician Roger, and in “Sleeping Beauty” (2016), when 16-year-old science-fiction fan Annabel pricks her finger on the needle of a record player, she falls asleep for 1,000 years. The three female leads project airs of independence but really have no more agency here than in the originals. The all-White casts and conventional relationships of the first two stories do loosen a bit in “Sleeping Beauty,” as Annabel, who seems White, is watched over by an interracial pair of motherly aunts and awakened at long last (albeit with a touch, not a kiss) by Zoe, who has light-brown skin and long, black hair. Notes following each tale draw attention to the period details, and even the futuristic city at the end has a retro look. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10.5-by-21-inch double-page spreads viewed at 70 % of actual size.)

The tweaks deliver no real alterations, but the clothing and hairstyles may amuse. (Fairy tales. 8-10)

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-84365-475-9

Page Count: 90

Publisher: Pavilion Children's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Fluid prose elucidates a life much stranger than fiction.

PROMISE THE NIGHT

MacColl's second novel brings to life the childhood of future aviator and writer Beryl Markham (Prisoners in the Palace, 2010).

Born Beryl Clutterbuck, she moved with her family to the highlands of Kenya as a toddler. Not long after, her mother and brother returned to England, abandoning her with her rough though loving father. MacColl's account begins when a leopard steals into Beryl's hut and attacks her dog—the child leaping from her bed to give chase. Though she loses the leopard in the night, the next morning, she and her new friend, a Nandi boy, Kibii, find the dog still alive and save it. Later she insists on being part of the hunt for the leopard. Young Beryl wants nothing more than to be a warrior, a murani, and to be able to leap higher than her own head. Her jumping skills progress apace, but young white girls, no matter how determined, cannot become part of the Nandi tribe. Her relationship with Kibii's father, the wise Arap Maina, along with a growing awareness of the consequences of her actions, help lead her into a more mature—though still wildly impulsive and daring—life. MacColl intersperses her third-person narrative with faux news reports and first-person diary entries of two decades later, when Beryl Markham became the first person—let alone woman—to fly a plane west from Europe to America.

Fluid prose elucidates a life much stranger than fiction. (Historical fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-8118-7625-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more