Man, I’ve had quite the drama-filled month (my “month” being last week of May to last week in June).
To quickly sum up: a funeral and a wedding in the same week, my mom moved out of the house we lived in since I was literally in the womb, and my car died a dramatic death (i.e. bizarre accident).
To elaborate: My grandma died at 88 after living with dementia for years. My cousin’s Cinderella-themed wedding was beautiful and went perfectly and I didn’t fall out of my dress. The move was a great event but nonetheless overwhelming. I’m still wondering how over-correcting can cause your car to spin out of control. (Oh, and I’m okay, the only victim was my Nissan, “Agent 99.” Learned the hard way not to name a car after a spy.)
It’s no wonder I want to submerse myself in fairy tales and British television.
I’m gonna try something new today where I sum up a few books in a paragraph or less and give a quick opinion and grade. The blurbs are going to be on three “fairy tales” that were similar in style.
The Princess Bride, William Goldman/ “S. Morganstern” (if you’ve seen the movie you can skip my “summary.”)
“Let me esplain… no, there is too much, let me sum up.” Buttercup is devastated when her true love, the farmboy Westley, is killed by pirates. As the most beautiful girl in the world, she attracts the attention of Prince Humperdinck. When the wedding plans become public, her true love (delayed by death) comes to save her from her mistake.
Yeah, that wasn’t my best summary in the world. I left out the best characters. But it’s a fantastic story: “Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles… ” In my opinion, the movie is close to perfect, with the action, love, and comedy all thrown in there. Great one-liners. As a book, it’s style has influenced a lot of people with Goldman’s incessant “asides” and recurring, “before ___ but after ___” statements. It takes you out of the moment a bit when he does it. Lots of authors do this now; in fact, the other books reviewed today have prologues and asides. Goldman pioneered the style from what I can tell, but it doesn’t stop it from halting the story at points.
Grades: maybe 7th and up. It’s probably not in the YA section of the library, but nothing inappropriate.
Grade: Story? A+. Style? B+. Goldman’s style confuses so many people, they often ask, “Why can’t I find the unabridged version?” Sorry, folks. He wrote it that way to make you crazy.
A Tale Dark and Grimm, Adam Gidwitz
Hansel and Gretel’s father chops their heads off to revive Faithful Johannes, who had been turned into stone. Their heads get put back into place, but they feel like they can find better parents who don’t kill them because a statue says to do so. They wander into other fairy tales to find where they belong. It turns out lots of Grimm tales are just that– grim.
The style is similar to Goldman in that Gidwitz interrupts the story to go, “yeah, this part is bloody, so, you may not want to read on.” His remarks are more sarcastic and, well, shorter than Goldman. This book is awesome because there’s no sugar-coating the Grimms at all. The stories are true to the originals other than Hansel and Gretel being woven into them seamlessly… and that smidgen of sarcasm thrown into the mix.
Grades: 5th would probably like it on up.
Grade: B+ Highly enjoyable.
Cloaked in Red, Vivian Vande Velde
Eight short stories revisiting Little Red Riding Hood. She attempts to flesh out the tale by improving upon the characterization of Red, the motives of the wolf, etc.
The stories are mostly not fantastic. The author’s prologue (yep, similar to Goldman) basically points out that the story of Red Riding Hood is an awful story– if you turned that drivel in as an English paper, you would flunk. *Boring!* The best short story had a young widowed grandma getting hit on by the local lumberjack while trying to hide a tame wolf and her granddaughter trying on a dress. The worst one is either the one with the screaming Red or the doll coming to life.
Grades: Um… Amazon said 12 and up. I’ll translate that to I can put it in my hypothetical 6th grade classroom.
Grade:C- The author treats her stories with disdain. If the author doesn’t like them, how will we? It was super short, which is a plus. I saw the hardcover on Amazon for $12. I suggest if you buy it, get the paperback at $4. I actually got mine half-price at a book fair, which was even better.
Have a safe and happy fourth! I’m gonna be difficult and watch British television. (I’ll go to a cookout and watch fireworks too, but in my time without a car I may have gotten addicted to Dr. Who…)