Archive for August 11, 2011


Rapunzel

Rapunzel by Sarah Gibb

I must admit that I usually mentally shrug when new versions of classic fairy tales are released.  There are so many versions out there, that it takes something special to get my attention.  Well, Gibb’s new Rapunzel is special indeed.  She takes the classic story and simplifies it without losing any of the romance or drama of the original.  There are no parts of the story that will be missed, somehow she edited and simplified without any loss of plot points.  That alone is rather brilliantly done.

But then add in the remarkable illustrations that are delicate, romantic and simply lovely.  They create a world that readers are happy to enter and to linger in.  They include small details that are very engaging.  I found myself looking at tiny details with the book up close to my face, just absorbed by the world Gibbs created in this book.  The illustrations move from pink and rosy to dark and mysterious, even threatening.  Gibbs uses colors very effectively as well as silhouettes.  Just when readers get used to the silhouette illustrations, you turn the page for an airy illustration of Rapunzel’s tower.  Turn the page again, and you are journeying through an amazing forest with the prince.  It’s a world that embraces, changes, and creates such moods.

Highly recommended.  If you are going to read one new version of a fairy tale this year, choose this one.  Remarkable.  Appropriate for ages 5-8, and older romantics.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by

apple pie abc

Apple Pie ABC by Alison Murray

A small black-and-white dog desperately wants a piece of apple pie in this alphabetical story.  It all starts with a girl making A for apple pie and a happily sleeping dog.  But as soon as the pie is in the oven with B for bake it, the dog is very interested in the pie.  Then the pie must C for cool it and D for dish it out.  Though the girl gets to eat some pie, the dog must make due with just a crumb.  But after that one delicious crumb, he just can’t stop thinking about eating pie!   This cheery picture book mixes the alphabet with an alphabetical storyline more robust than in other books that try this technique.  Readers will love the many ways the dog tries to get pie and then the very satisfying and delicious conclusion.

Murray has created a book that really works the alphabet into the story.  Even without the alphabet as part of the book, this story and the writing would stand on its own.  That’s something that can rarely be said about an alphabet picture book.  The writing is kept very simple and solid.

Murray’s illustrations are a treat in this book.  They have a natural, old-fashioned quality to them that makes the book warm and inviting.  Add the apple pie element, and you have a book that feels like a classic picture book yet still has a modern perspective too.

A delight of a picture book that will satisfy yet leave young readers eager for seconds.  Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by

From a group of titles nominated and then voted on by over 60,000 people, here are the top 10 titles in NPR’s Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy books.  You can click here to see the entire Top 100 list. 

My biggest gripe with the top titles are that there is not a single female author in the bunch.  The first female author appears at #20 and is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  That is followed closely by Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.  But then there is another large gap until Anne McCaffrey appears at #33 with Dragonflight.

I know it was a democratic voting process, but I still think it shows how dominant male writers are in sci fi and fantasy despite such amazing female authors.  Sigh.  We have a long way to go!

Note:  the list does not include horror or teen books, but teen readers enjoy fantasy and science fiction for adults, so I thought the list still had a place here on my blog.

Top 10

   

1. Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien

2. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

3. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

   

4. The Dune Chronicles by Frank Herbert

5. A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R. R. Martin

6. 1984 by George Orwell

7. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

  

8. The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov

9. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

10. American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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