A well-constructed take on a famous fairy tale and heroine.



Slayton (Liz and Nellie, 2016, etc.) offers a 19th-century update of “Sleeping Beauty” in this YA novel.

In a town in Vermont, 16-year-old Briar Rose Jenny works at the spinning mill to take care of her three younger siblings following the deaths of her parents. It’s been difficult: Briar can’t quite make ends meet, and when she tries to pick up sewing work from her neighbors, she faces anti-Irish hostility. To make matters worse, her fiance abruptly calls off their engagement and now flaunts his new relationship before Briar’s eyes. What’s more, the children’s babysitter keeps going on about fairies and “Sleeping Beauty,” and Briar’s only friend, the goofy-but-chivalrous Henry Prince, is sailing away for Europe. Briar is tempted, then, when a peddler offers a solution to all her problems: “It was unlike any spindle Briar had ever seen before. The whorl was carved with roses and the wooden shaft, stained a light brown, came to an unusually sharp point on the end.” The peddler claims the spindle will bring prosperity to anyone who uses it, allowing her to spin faster than all the other girls at the mill. Briar leaps at the opportunity to make more money and keep custody of her siblings, but the secrets of the spindle—and their connections to an old story in which Briar does not believe—may prove not just dangerous, but deadly. Slayton, a natural storyteller, writes in smooth, practical prose that nevertheless manages to retain the romance and mystery one expects from a fairy tale. The placement of the yarn in the context of an immigrant family in an industrial mill town makes for an intriguing contrast with the original version. That said, there’s little reinvention of the wheel. The book rests comfortably within its genre, and things end up about where the reader expects them. Slayton aims to tell a simple, compelling story about responsibility, expectation, disappointment, and love, and she succeeds in doing so.

A well-constructed take on a famous fairy tale and heroine.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63375-493-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2016

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Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly...


From the Giver Quartet series , Vol. 1

In a radical departure from her realistic fiction and comic chronicles of Anastasia, Lowry creates a chilling, tightly controlled future society where all controversy, pain, and choice have been expunged, each childhood year has its privileges and responsibilities, and family members are selected for compatibility.

As Jonas approaches the "Ceremony of Twelve," he wonders what his adult "Assignment" will be. Father, a "Nurturer," cares for "newchildren"; Mother works in the "Department of Justice"; but Jonas's admitted talents suggest no particular calling. In the event, he is named "Receiver," to replace an Elder with a unique function: holding the community's memories—painful, troubling, or prone to lead (like love) to disorder; the Elder ("The Giver") now begins to transfer these memories to Jonas. The process is deeply disturbing; for the first time, Jonas learns about ordinary things like color, the sun, snow, and mountains, as well as love, war, and death: the ceremony known as "release" is revealed to be murder. Horrified, Jonas plots escape to "Elsewhere," a step he believes will return the memories to all the people, but his timing is upset by a decision to release a newchild he has come to love. Ill-equipped, Jonas sets out with the baby on a desperate journey whose enigmatic conclusion resonates with allegory: Jonas may be a Christ figure, but the contrasts here with Christian symbols are also intriguing.

Wrought with admirable skill—the emptiness and menace underlying this Utopia emerge step by inexorable step: a richly provocative novel. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 978-0-395-64566-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1993

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A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching.


Breaking away from Arthurian legends (The Winter Prince, 1993, etc.), Wein delivers a heartbreaking tale of friendship during World War II.

In a cell in Nazi-occupied France, a young woman writes. Like Scheherezade, to whom she is compared by the SS officer in charge of her case, she dribbles out information—“everything I can remember about the British War Effort”—in exchange for time and a reprieve from torture. But her story is more than a listing of wireless codes or aircraft types. Instead, she describes her friendship with Maddie, the pilot who flew them to France, as well as the real details of the British War Effort: the breaking down of class barriers, the opportunities, the fears and victories not only of war, but of daily life. She also describes, almost casually, her unbearable current situation and the SS officer who holds her life in his hands and his beleaguered female associate, who translates the narrative each day. Through the layers of story, characters (including the Nazis) spring to life. And as the epigraph makes clear, there is more to this tale than is immediately apparent. The twists will lead readers to finish the last page and turn back to the beginning to see how the pieces slot perfectly, unexpectedly into place.

A carefully researched, precisely written tour de force; unforgettable and wrenching. (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4231-5219-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Feb. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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