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Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Sleeper and the Spindle, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell. Harper, 2015. $24.99 ages 12 and up

"She called for her fiancé and told him not to take on so, and that they would still be married, even if he was but a prince and she a queen, and she chucked him beneath his pretty chin and kissed him until he smiled. She called for her mail shirt. She called for her sword. She called for provisions, and for her horse, and then she rode out  of the palace, towards the east."

What a treasure this book is - if I could do nothing but look at it, I would feel the same! It is a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty story, with a few twists which only makes it all the more appealing. It is one of those books where text and art come together to make it a perfect read for its adolescent audience. Don't miss it!

If you know Neil Gaiman's work, you will not be surprised that his text for this familiar tale (plus another!) is brilliant. He is such a terrific writer and always astonishes with his ability to bring a story to life, even if you have heard that same story more than once. You will have read other retellings if you are a fan of fairy and folk tales. Many have been written. Despite thinking that I knew the characters I was about to meet, Mr. Gaiman manages to move away from the stereotypes I was expecting. 

It actually begins with Snow White who has been preparing to be married without much enthusiasm, when she hears that a sleeping plague is moving slowly toward her kingdom. She quickly abandons her wedding plans and sets out on a quest to make her way to the castle where the 'sleeper' queen has been under a long lasting spell. Never has the story had such an interesting twist! Once Snow White (with the help of a team of three dwarfs) arrives at the castle, things take an unexpected turn. Neil Gaiman sweeps his audience along to a superb ending.

Chris Riddell uses pen and ink, and a hint of gold, to create the delicate details that will grab attention and encourage extended perusal of all that he includes to help tell this unforgettable new story. Filled with energy and expression they are emotional and stunning.

Both courageous and  menacing, it is a story about empowering women to be the best they can be without princes coming to their rescue. I did not want it to end. I would have read on and on ...

You need to add this book to your library shelf!                                                                             

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