I want to start by saying, I loved Briar Rose by Jane Yolen. Sleeping Beauty has always been my favorite fairy tale. There's something about being woken up by a kiss that makes me feel romantic. I don't know what it is. Anyway, as such, I am constantly reading retellings of the story. I've read A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn, The Sleeping Beauty Proposal by Sarah Strohmeyer and I have on my shopping list Beauty Sleep by Cameron Dokey from the Once Upon a Time series. So far this one is my favorite.
I don't know if it has to do with the history that surrounds the book or the version of the story that the grandmother Gemma is constantly telling or that Yolen alternates chapters of Gemma telling the Briar Rose story with the real life events happening to Becca. All I know is that I couldn't stop reading it. One of my favorite parts was the story of the "prince." It's the one aspect we never get in any Sleeping Beauty tale.
We always know what happens to Briar Rose and her kingdom. We always know the prince comes and awakens her from her slumber. But, we never know what journey the prince took to get to her. Yolen tells his journey, his story. Granted, I did feel it may have been a bit too long at times, especially with the deep history she goes into. But, I liked seeing his part of the story as being part of the sleeping beauty tale.
I liked seeing the aspect of the story mixed in with the elements of the history. I could see every detail in the scene she paints and the items of history she chooses to represent the items of the story (i.e. barb wire = vines). I'd like to see Jane Yolen attempt more of these stories. I think I would like that very much.
For my first book off my summer reading list, I choose We the Children by Andrew Clements. I figured it was short and I could get through it pretty quickly. I was right. I finished it in a day reading it on the train.
What I loved most about the book were the sketches. Throughout the book are sketches based on the events of the chapter: an old man, a wave, Benjamin Pratt himself. I also liked that the text wrapped around the images. If the waves went up and down, the text followed it. My favorite was the wrecking ball sketched that broke through the words on the page as it would the wall of a building. Awesome!
The story itself was simple enough. Not complex, but definitely a plot line that could hold the attention of middle grade readers. What I also liked was the ending. You knew a sequel would follow if not a series, but it wasn't a cliff hanger. Sometime those are the worst, being left hanging. I understand the appeal of them as they guarantee purchases of the next book. But the fact that this one was a subtle end to the first book of a series actually made me appreciate it more.
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