A Big Bed for Little Snow by Grace Lin (9780316478366)
This follow-up to the award-winning A Big Mooncake for Little Star focuses on wintry weather. Little Snow is given a great big bed by his mother, perfect for jumping on! His mother tells him not to bounce on it though and just sleep on it. But Little Snow just can’t resist bouncing and jumping a little bit. When he jumps, feathers fall out of the big bed and drift down. Little Snow does sometimes get a bit more excited and then jumps so hard that the bed bursts open and a lot of feathers come out. By the end of the winter, the bed is entirely empty, just a shell of what it once was.
In the same playful way as the first book, Lin captures a natural phenomenon with a gentle joy. Both books have the attentive mother, who sets rules which are broken by the children. But in both instances, the mothers are fully aware of what is actually happening and the tone is one of merry acceptance rather than frustration.
The illustrations here show exactly what is happening long before the larger reveal of snow falling on earth. The bed is shaped like a large blue cloud and the snowflakes on everyone’s clothes make it very clear as well. The use of the white background with the clothing that disappears into it is beautifully done, offering a magical border-free feel.
Another winner from the multi-talented Lin. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy (9780525518587)
Eva is a princess whose magick is tied to blood and marrow. She’s the first royal with that magick combination since Queen Raina, who massacred thousands of the native populations hundreds of years ago. Because her magick is so rare, Eva hasn’t learned how to use it yet, something that is particularly problematic when you are destined to fight your sister to the death in order to be the next Queen. Eva loves to travel incognito into the city at night to dance and forget her destiny for awhile. But when she is attacked by an assassin, she gets her first taste of her magick really working thanks to the blood she is drenched in. Eva now must find the key to her powers and discovers a legendary Fey warrior who just may have the answers for her. For the first time, she thinks she may just have a chance, but it won’t be easy as those around her become targets for her enemies too.
Joy’s fantasy novel has strong roots in North Africa. She has created a magical fantasy realm filled with several different races with their own powers. Humans are the interlopers, who killed many on their way to both the throne and coming into their own magick powers. There is a strong sense of justice in the novel, where it is clear that the current Queen and Eva’s sister have never questioned what brought them the lives they have. Eva on the other hand has many questions, mostly about the races of the land but also about her own powers and what they say about her as a potential Queen and the bloodshed that may follow.
This novel is at its best during the action sequences where Eva is battling enemies and trying out her new powers on allies. In these scenes, the writing is tight and weaves a clear image of what is happening with breathtaking speed. The romance scenes are well written and an important element in the overall storyline. Joy focuses on characters and action, not lingering overly long on descriptions of the setting, which makes this a fast and intense read.
Full of bloody battles with a female protagonist who kicks ass, this book is a great read. Appropriate for ages 14-17.
Reviewed from library copy.