Monday, July 20, 2015

The Wind in the Willows

Author: Kenneth Grahame
Pages: 259
Rating: PG - only because the word "ass" is used numerous times - this book was written in an era where that word was simply another word for "fool" or "stupid" and no one thought anything of using it as such.

The adventures begin when Mole, feeling all the restlessness that springtime brings, abandons his burrow to discover the magic of the great river. With the able assistance of Rat, Mole learns to row and swim, and the chums fill their idyllic days with summertime rambles along the river and cozy fireside feasts on crisp nights. The pair take to the open road with the pleasure-loving Toad, track reclusive Badger to his snug lair, and stand together to reclaim Toad Hall from an invasion of stoats, ferrets, and weasels.

My Thoughts: This is a nice little book and each chapter is pretty much it's own little story. Toad's story is woven throughout but mostly, you could just read a chapter at random and have a cute little anecdote. The language used in this book is rather old fashioned, which makes it kind of fun, because I wasn't familiar with all the vocabulary used in it. It's definitely a children's book, although I don't know how many children would actually be captivated by these simple little stories in today's fast-paced world. Which is a shame really. I also wasn't really a fan of Toad. He's really full of himself, and he kind of gets off scott-free in the end, which I didn't love either. But there are a lot of really good lessons about friendship in here.

Scarlet Moon

Author: Debbie Viguie
Pages: 157

Rating: PG - the wolf kills some people and they are found with throats ripped out, etc. Not horribly graphic, but definitely not G-rated

Ruth's grandmother lives in the forest, banished there for the "evil" that the townsfolk believed she practiced. But if studying the stars, learning about nature, and dreaming of flying is evil, then Ruth is guilty of it too. Whenever Ruth took food and supplies to her grandmother, she would sit with the old woman for hours, listening and learning.
When she wasn't in the woods, Ruth was learning the trade of her father, a blacksmith, now that her brother would never return from the Crusades.
Amidst those dark days, a new man enters Ruth's life. William is a noble with a hot temper and a bad name, and he makes her shiver. But the young man is prey to his heritage, a curse placed on his family ages ago, and each male of the family has strange blood running in his veins. Now Ruth must come face-to-face with his destiny at Grandma's house.

My Thoughts: Other than the fact that, as in most fairy-tales, our hero and heroine are madly in love with each other and decide to get married after knowing each other for only a few days, I really enjoyed this retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It has a darkness to it that makes for a really fun twist. I wasn't sure about the ending, the whole thing seemed a little too simple. But, this is a quick, fun, and easy little read, and I enjoyed it more than some of the other retold fairy tales I've read.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

3 in 1 Retold Fairy Tales: Golden, Beauty Sleep, and Belle

Author: Cameron Dokey
Rating: G - all 3 books are appropriate for even elementary girls

Pages: Golden - 181, Beauty Sleep - 186, Belle - 208

Golden Summary: 
Before Rapunzel's birth, her mother made a dangerous deal with the sorceress Melisande: If she could not love newborn Rapunzel just as she appeared, she would surrender the child to Melisande. When Rapunzel was born completely bald and without hope of ever growing hair, her horrified mother sent her away with the sorceress to an uncertain future.

After sixteen years of raising Rapunzel as her own child, Melisande reveals that she has another daughter, Rue, who was cursed by a wizard years ago and needs Rapunzel's help. Rue and Rapunzel have precisely "two nights and the day that falls between" to break the enchantment. But bitterness and envy come between the girls, and if they fail to work together, Rue will remain cursed...forever.

My Thoughts: I put this book first because it was my favorite of the three and had the most imaginative retelling. I mean, come on...Rapunzel isn't supposed to be BALD! I feel like the summary above did a really good job of telling about this book so I don't have much to add, but I really loved the message this book contained about true beauty being on the inside and that true love is something you have to work at every single day. There was one quote from the book I particularly liked. "That is what love is. A possibility that becomes a choice. A choice you keep making, over and over. Day after day. Year after year. Time after time." Honestly, this is the best Once Upon a Time book I've read so far. I just loved it. Such a sweet little story and so good! Definitely worth the read.

Beauty Sleep Summary:
With these seemingly innocent words, the fate of a newborn princess is sealed. For years the king and queen despaired of ever having a child. When Aurore arrives, though the entire kingdom celebrates, not all are overjoyed. They use her christening as an occasion for revenge, and her young life is overshadowed by a curse of death almost as soon as it has begun. Those who can, intervene, but evil has a way of holding fast. A sleep of a hundred years following the pricking of a finger is the best that can be done.
And so Aurore grows up. Forbidden princesslike tasks of embroidery and sewing, she explores the great outdoors, reveling in the flora and fauna that surround her castle home. Then one day she meets a handsome stranger in an enchanted wood and begins an adventure the likes of which she never dreamed of.
This is the story of the Sleeping Beauty, here quite awake and given new voice. Taunted by fate, Aurore soon learns that although she cannot sidestep her own destiny, love itself is actually the most powerful magic of all.
My Thoughts: I wasn't quite as thrilled with this one, although the story was different than what I expected. When Aurore turns 16, bad things start happening in the kingdom, and Aurore soon realizes that it's her fault. Until she fulfills the curse, by pricking her finger, the kingdom will continue to suffer. So she runs away to meet her destiny, and it's kind of odd what happens next. I'm not sure I was super thrilled with the way this story was put together, or with the ending, but it was definitely a different version of this story.

Belle Summary:
Belle is convinced she has the wrong name, as she lacks her sisters' awe-inspiring beauty. So she withdraws from society, devoting her time to wood carving. Secretly, Belle longs to find the fabled Heartwood Tree. If carved by the right hands, the Heartwood will reveal the face of one's true love.

During a fierce storm, Belle's father stumbles upon the mysterious Heartwood -- and encounters a terrifying and lonely Beast. Now Belle must carve the Heartwood to save her father, and learn to see not with the eyes of her mind, but with the eyes of her heart.

My Thoughts: This was my least favorite of the 3 only because the fairy tale stays almost exactly true to the version we all know so well. There's not much variation. The addition of the Heartwood Tree is about the only thing that makes this story different from the Disney version, honestly. So...I didn't feel like it was worth the read so much.