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review 2017-05-14 00:03
Shadow by Marcia Brown
Shadow - Blaise Cendrars,Marcia Brown

Genre:  Fantasy / Africa ./ Folktale / Horror


Year Published: 1982

 

Year Read:  2010

 

Publisher:   Charles Scribner's Sons

 

 

Shadow

“Shadow” is a Caldecott Medal award winning book by Marcia Brown and it is about what shadows do around people and what they do when they are not looking. “Shadow” may be a bit scary for smaller children, but it is truly a mesmerizing book that children would enjoy for many years.

Marcia Brown has wonderfully given a vivid description of what shadows do and what they are like and put the description of shadows in a poetic format and Marcia Brown does a great job at making shadows seem so mysterious as they constantly follow people around in ghostly figures. Marcia Brown’s illustrations are truly eerie yet creative as the people in the book are drawn as black shadows while the shadows themselves are drawn as white ghostly figures following the shadowed characters, however, there are some shadows that are dark figures such as the shadow coming out of the ash from the fire. The images perfectly blend color and black and white to bring out a more effective look at the world of shadows such as putting shadowed figures against colorful mountainsides or forests.

Shadow

Parents should know that there are some scary images in this book which involves images of the shadows taking frightening shapes such as one shadow wearing a very frightening mask and another large shadow that has ash for eyes and is walking on four wobbly legs. Many small children would also be frighten about the idea that shadows can come to life when they least expect it and it might cause many small children to not go to sleep at night because they might be afraid of their shadows coming to life to get them. Parents need to explain to their children that shadows do not come alive and they are apart of people.

“Shadow” is a brilliant book that takes on the views of the mysterious world of shadows and it will have many children mesmerized for many years. I would recommend this book to children ages six and up since the images are truly frightening and smaller children might be frightened at the idea that shadows come to life in this book.


Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2017-04-08 14:59
The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone
The Gingerbread Boy - Paul Galdone

Genre:  Food / Fairy Tale / Retelling / Trickery


Year Published: 1975


Year Read:  2017

Publisher: Clarion Books

 

 

 

Gingerbread

Now, as long as I could remember, I have always heard the stories about everyone’s favorite trouble making food product the “Gingerbread Man” and I had read a couple of children’s books in the past that detailed the Gingerbread Man’s adventures (although it has been years since I had last read a “Gingerbread Man” book). So, when I found out that Paul Galdone had written his own interpretation of the Gingerbread Man story called “The Gingerbread Boy,” I was a bit surprised to see this edition pop up and I had to check it out!

The story starts off with a little old woman and a little old man not having any children of their own and they decided to make a Gingerbread Boy to make up for it. When the old woman put the Gingerbread boy in the oven, she went off to go do some chores in the house and it was then that she forgot about the Gingerbread Boy and the oven started to burn. When the old woman quickly went to open the oven, out jumped the Gingerbread Boy and he ended up running out of the house! This then causes an escalating adventure for the Gingerbread Boy as he runs away from both the old woman and the old man and most of the villagers, while shouting out:

“Run! Run! Run!
Catch me if you can!
You can’t catch me!
I’m the Gingerbread Boy,
I am! I am!”


After the Gingerbread Boy outruns everyone in the village, he meets up with a fox and…

Will the fox catch the Gingerbread Boy?

Read this book to find out!


Paul Galdone’s retelling of the “Gingerbread Man” was quite unique and cute to read as I rarely come across many “Gingerbread Man” interpretations where the titular Gingerbread Man is portrayed as a boy (even though there were no hints about the Gingerbread being a boy other than being called a boy). I also enjoyed the scenes where the Gingerbread Boy ran away from various characters who want to eat him up as it was amusing that the Gingerbread Boy came up with this rhyme to brag about how he can evade any of his pursuers and I found myself repeating the rhymes whenever the Gingerbread Boy escapes from his pursuers. Paul Galdone’s artwork was fun to look at as all the characters and settings look scratchy as it has an old fashioned feel that made the story great to read through. I also loved the images of the Gingerbread Boy itself as it truly looks like a baked gingerbread cookie that happens to come to life and run across the pages in happy glee!

The reason why I gave this book a four star rating was because I felt that the Gingerbread Boy’s taunting verses:

“Run! Run! Run!
Catch me if you can!
You can’t catch me!
I’m the Gingerbread Boy,
I am! I am!”


Had started to get a bit tedious after a while, especially since we keep seeing these same verses pop up on every page every time the Gingerbread Boy runs away from his pursuers. While young children will get enjoyment out of repeating this verse every time the Gingerbread Boy escapes his pursuers, some older readers might find the constant repeatings of this verse to be a bit of a hassle to read through over and over again.

Overall, “The Gingerbread Boy” is a cute book for anyone who is a huge fan of the “Gingerbread Man” stories. I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since the ending of this book might disturb some smaller children.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2017-03-14 00:44
The Sea King's Daughter by Aaron Shepard
The Sea King's Daughter: A Russian Legend - Aaron Shepard

Genre:  Music / Romance / Russia / Sea / Folktale / Magic


Year Published: 1997


Year Read:  2017

Publisher:  Skyhook Press

 

Sea King

4.5 stars

I would like to thank NetGalley and Skyhook Press for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I have always loved reading Russian folktales and when NetGalley offered the timeless classic “The Sea King’s Daughter” by Aaron Shepard along with gorgeous artwork by Gennady Spirin, I was so excited to check this little baby out and I was not disappointed by the results!

Once upon a time, in the city of Novgorod the Great in Russia, there lived a poor but contented musician named Sadko, who would usually play his twelve string gusli during various parties that he was invited to. Everyone at the parties would happily dance to his music and Sadko was content in learning that his music was causing so much joy for the people of Novgorod! One day however, Sadko wanted to find a wife, but none of the Maidens at the parties would marry him due to him being poor. So, when Sadko started playing his gusli over the River Volkhov, the mighty Sea King suddenly popped out of the ocean and invites Sadko to play at his underwater palace. Sadko decides to go to the underwater palace, but once he gets there, the Sea King offers Sadko a chance to marry one of his daughters and stay in his kingdom forever.

Will Sadko marry one of the Sea King’s daughters and will he ever return back to his home in Novgorod?

Read this book to find out!


Wow! I was quite impressed with this book, especially with the numerous nods to Russian culture displayed in the story! I loved the fact that Aaron Shepard incorporated many Russian elements in this story as we get to see the various instruments that are shown in Russia such as Sadko’s gusli and I also loved the fact that the story uses the themes of dancing and music to be a major factor in Sadko’s life and how they affect his decisions to make a happier life for himself. I also loved the dilemma that Aaron Shepard brings to the story as Sadko has to decide if he wants to stay in the Sea King’s palace and marry his daughter or not marry the Sea King’s daughter and stay in his hometown Novgorod as it provides an interesting situation for Sadko and the reader is free to engage in deciding which decision will make Sadko happy. But my most favorite part of this book was the artwork done by Gennady Spirin as the artwork was simply gorgeous to look at! I loved the images of the citizens of Novgorod dancing to Sadko’s music as the citizens just look so cheerful whenever they are dancing and the artwork seems to glow off the pages as you see the people dancing! I especially loved the way that Gennady Spirin designed the underwater palace of the Sea King as it looked truly exquisite and beautiful and I enjoyed seeing the images of various underwater creatures like fish and crabs occupying the underwater palace. But what I loved the best about Gennady Spirin’s artwork were the exotic Russian clothing that the characters wore in the story as I often wanted to wear such clothing and it really brings out the Russian elements of this tale!

Sea King

The reason why I took off half a star from the rating was because I felt that the story was slowly paced and it was sometimes hard for me to get completely engaged in the story because some scenes seemed to drag out too long. Also, for anyone who does not like bittersweet endings in stories, this story does have a bittersweet ending. I will not tell you what happens at the end, but I must admit that I found myself a bit unsatisfied with how abrupt the ending seemed to be.

Overall, “The Sea King’s Daughter” is a truly great book about finding your true happiness in the world and anyone who loves Russian folktales will definitely enjoy this story! I would recommend this book to children ages six and up since the length of the book might be too long for some smaller children to handle.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2017-02-19 20:17
Alice by Christina Henry
Alice - Christina Henry

Genre: Fantasy / Horror / Thriller / Adventure


Year Published: 2015


Number of Pages: 291 pages


Date Read: 1/6/2017   



Publisher: Ace Books

 

 

Series: The Chronicles of Alice #1

 

 

Alice

5.5 stars!!!

“Pretty little Alice. We’ll make you fine and plump, won’t we, pretty girl? Pretty Alice.”

You know something? I thought that the darkest retelling of “Alice in Wonderland” I had ever been introduced to was either “American McGee’s Alice” video game series or Tim Burton’s “Alice in Wonderland.” But then, after I read Christina Henry’s take on “Alice in Wonderland” called “Alice,” it turns out that this book blew all the other dark interpretations of “Alice in Wonderland” away with its constant themes of graphic violence and rape!

The story starts off with Alice being held in a hospital (or a mental institution) due to her going insane a few years ago and the problem with this is that Alice cannot remember how she ended up in the hospital in the first place. The only bits of memories she has left is that she was having a tea party with a white rabbit and it turned out that the white rabbit had raped her after the party, but Alice had managed to escape the White Rabbit’s clutches. Meanwhile, Alice meets up with a fellow male inmate named Hatcher, who was also suffering from amnesia and seems to be connected to a mysterious monster named the Jabberwocky. Later on unfortunately, the hospital mysteriously burns down and Alice and Hatcher manage to escape from the burning hospital and it was then that they discovered that the Jabberwocky was responsible for burning down the hospital and it seems to be chasing after both Alice and Hatcher! It turns out that Hatcher and Alice both have mysterious powers that could defeat the Jabberwocky, but in order to fully defeat the Jabberwocky, Alice and Hatcher must obtain a rare weapon that could destroy the Jabberwocky and they head down to the dangerous and revolting insides of the Old City in order to seek such a weapon.

Wow…just wow…Just how in the world did I end up loving a book that had so many rape scenes and violence? I guess the storytelling was so well written that I just ended up getting hooked to this book! Christina Henry has done a brilliant job at creating a darker retelling of “Alice in Wonderland” in this book as she manages to make this book both terrifying and exciting at the same time! I enjoyed the dark and twisted take on this tale as characters like the white rabbit, the Cheshire cat and the Caterpillar are much more villainous in this story than in their original formats as they are shown as actively trying to harm both Alice and Hatcher throughout their journey and are also engaged in enslaving most of the citizens in the Old City. I also loved the way that Christina Henry made this story so frightening and intense as I was seriously disgusted at the many rape and sexual scenes in this story and yet I was happy that we have a strong female protagonist in Alice who would do anything to save the people of Old City from the antagonists’ grasps. Now, I would like to talk about the characters themselves and the two characters that I automatically fell in love with were Alice and Hatcher! I loved the way that Christina Henry portrayed Alice’s character as Alice goes through some great character development in this story as she started out as being a meek and traumatized character, but as the story goes on, she starts becoming a much stronger and independent character who tries to save the people of Old City and takes out evil with her handy little knife! But probably the most interesting and awesome character in this story was none other than Hatcher himself! I loved the fact that Hatcher was such a mysterious character as you wonder why he is connected to the Jabberwocky and (I know I am going to sound like a sadist here, but) I loved seeing the fight scenes between Hatcher and the various soldiers of Old City as it shows that he can easily take down anyone in his path! But what I really loved about Hatcher’s character was his complete devotion to protecting Alice as is shows that despite him being a serial killer of sorts, he still has a good heart on his shoulders.

Alice

~HUGE TRIGGER WARNING COMING UP!~

Alright, so this book has two major issues that is often problematic with many people and that is the topic of rape and strong graphic violence. There are many rape scenes in this book and I usually have issues with rape in books and this book was no exception to my disgust towards this issue. Also, the violence in this book is surprisingly much more graphic than any other fantasy and horror novel that I had ever read as there are many scenes where Alice and Hatcher have to slaughter some of the antagonists in order to reach their goal and the ways that Alice and Hatcher kill off their opponents are told in an extremely graphic and horrific detail.

Overall, “Alice” is truly one of the best dark and twisted retellings of a fairy tale that I have ever read and I will definitely be picking up the second book in the series “Red Queen!”


Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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review 2017-02-19 19:52
Sootface by Robert D. San Souci
Sootface - Robert D. San Souci,Daniel San Souci

Genre:  Native American / Folktale / Family / Manners / Magic


Year Published: 1994


Year Read:  2010

Publisher:  Doubleday Book for Young Readers

 

 

“Sootface: An Ojibwa Cinderella Story” is a brilliant Native American version of “Cinderella” retold by Robert D. San Souci along with beautiful illustrations by Daniel San Souci. In this version, a young girl named Sootface is mistreated by her two older sisters, but when a mighty warrior wanted to marry a woman who can see him when he is invisible, Sootface realizes that true beauty lies within. “Sootface: An Ojibwa Cinderella Story” is a beautiful retelling of one of the most beloved fairy tales ever created and will be an instant treat for children.

Robert D. San Souci has done a terrific job at retelling this old Native American tale as he makes the story both dramatic and tender at the same time. The audience can easily feel sympathy for Sootface as she has to endure hardship from her sisters and the village because of her appearance, however Sootface teaches children about the importance of having a kind heart as Sootface tries to overcome the cruelness of her sisters to have her dreams come true. Daniel San Souci’s illustrations are just simply beautiful and amazing as it truly captures the true spirit of the Native American culture as the characters wear colorful skin robes to define their personalities. The image that stood out the most was the image of Sootface herself as she definitely does look dirty since her hair is frizzy and her clothes are worn and torn since she has to do all the work at her home. However, Sootface still have an extremely beautiful face which strongly proves the book’s point in how true beauty lies within.

Parents should know that Sootface’s sisters are cruel towards her to the point where they smear ashes on Sootface’s face without a second thought. Parents should tell their children who have brothers and sisters that it is not right to mistreat your sibling and that you should always treat your siblings with respect.

“Sootface: An Ojibwa Cinderella Story” is a beautiful retelling of “Cinderella” that many children who are interested in Native American folktales will enjoy for many years. I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since there are some terms in this book that younger children would have problems with.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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