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Ariel Hardcover – September 6, 2005

6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

The first thing you should know about Ariel is that she's a liar. With this grabber, Tiffany takes the characters from Shakespeare's The Tempest and provides background as to how they get to the point where readers find them in the play. The story spans centuries, beginning with Ariel's birth from the head of a luckless sailor, who was blown across the Atlantic in the fifty-eighth Year of Our Lord and ending with the arrival of Christopher Columbus in the New World. In between, readers meet Caliban, Prospero, Miranda, Antonio, Alonso, Gonzalo, and Ferdinand. While the general story line remains the same, Tiffany alters some of the details in an attempt to show the motives behind the characters' behaviors. For instance, Tinkerbell-like Ariel serves Prospero because she doesn't want the magician to re-imprison her inside the tree where he first found her. Caliban, not literally a monster, walks with a deformed leg because Ariel refused to help his mother during his difficult birth. Miranda befriends him and makes her sexual desires known; thus, he is totally innocent of making improper advances. Other characters include an innocent Alonso; a spoiled, simpering Ferdinand whom Miranda eventually rejects; and a devoted, loving Caliban who wins her heart in the end. The author seems to have structured her ideas in keeping with a revisionist interpretation of the play as a condemnation of European colonialism. The prose is well written and easy to follow, using language that suggests the Bard's poetry. This is a good adjunct to the play and, in the tradition of Robin McKinley's Beauty (HarperCollins, 1978), a means of familiarizing modern-day readers with the heroes of a classic tale, while taking some interesting liberties with the original ideas.–Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Born from the dreams of a shipwrecked sailor, Ariel, the spirit from Shakespeare's The Tempest, sparks this retelling, or, perhaps more accurately, pretelling. When the sailor dies, Ariel does not, and spends the following centuries shifting from one fantastical form to another, amusing herself in solitude until a very practical and very pregnant woman named Sycorax lands on her island to give birth to Caliban. Sycorax's lack of imagination confounds, then diminishes Ariel until she is weak enough to be imprisoned in a tree for her unwillingness to offer Sycorax any practical assistance. It is there Ariel remains while Caliban grows from infant to child, there that she becomes increasingly enraged. Preying on the dreams of the child, Ariel seeks revenge. By the time Prospero and his daughter, Miranda, arrive on the island, Ariel has found a way to manipulate certain tendencies in the human mind to gain her freedom and increase her power. This lush, lyrical, and elegantly expressive work is a strong mix of solid narrative storytelling, sensitive characterization, and fantasy. A familiarity with The Tempest enriches the reading but is not required, especially as the author so thoroughly liberates the story. An outstanding addition to Shakespearean retellings for strong teen readers. Holly Koelling
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTeen; First Edition edition (September 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060753277
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060753276
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,848,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Grace Tiffany is a Shakespeare scholar who writes smart, entertaining fiction. Her newest novel, PAINT (Bagwyn, 2013), is based on the life of Emilia Lanier, a scandalous seventeenth-century poet thought by some to have been the mysterious Dark Lady of Shakespeare's sonnets. PAINT is the third of a network of novels in which Tiffany explores Shakespeare's fraught relations with women, both at home and in the busy London theater world. The first of this group, MY FATHER HAD A DAUGHTER, won Booksense 76 listing from the independent booksellers of America. Tiffany's sole novel for teenagers, ARIEL, appeared on the 2006 American Library Association list of best novels for young adults. She has also written two nonfiction books about English Renaissance culture. Visit her "Shakespeare in Fiction and Fact" blog at:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Edward on October 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
The book is described as "young adult" but this not-so-young-adult liked it very much. The author borrowed the story line of Shakespeare's Tempest and added years, events, and characters in and around the play. The author also borrows some of the ways Shakespeare developed his characters. A "witch" is presented as not evil. A "monster" in the eyes of some is revealed as a sympathetic character. Most important is Ariel, a spirit of imagination, who leads people to trouble to the extent that they opt for a world of imagination instead of the world as it is. While the book may be accessible to young adults, its sophisticated treatment of characters gives it layers of meaning best appreciated by those long gone from high school. Its ending, which I will not spoil by revealing, is stunning, and provides much food for thought for anyone concerned with America's history and direction. One warning: those who prefer their spirits to be cuddly Tinkerbell's over spirits capable of malevolence, and those who prefer Disney-sanitized fairy tales over the original Brothers Grimm, might find this book unsettling.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By book lover on October 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
One of the great things about Shakespeare is that you can put one of his plays in any era and it will fit. One of the great things about Grace Tiffany's books is that she is true to Shakespeare while bringing him to life from a new perspective. As with all her other books, this one made me want to go back and reread the original, in this case The Tempest. Ariel is imaginative, creative, humorous and profound; it's a great read.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Vtown Tigers on February 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The first thing you should know about Ariel is that she is a liar, because dreams lie, and she is both dream and maker of dreams. Take that as a warning.

In the Triangle, which is a place of magic, there is a spirit that can see your hopes, desires, and dreams; this spirit's name is Ariel. She was spawned long ago from Jasper, who was a sailor, in 48 A.D. Ariel had been waiting for her champion from the east, to save her from her carpenter ant torture, and help conquer the whole island. When people come to the Triangle though, they do not always listen to Ariel's commands.

I enjoyed this book a lot, and the way it talked about emotions. For example, Ariel illustrated how grief and sadness are not always just on the surface, it is something that is rooted deep within yourself. This book showed raw human feelings, at a level where I could understand them.

I did not like how there where few details about the surroundings in the book. I had to make up a lot of information, like what I thought the setting looked like. Something I think was a bad choice was that Ariel covered hundreds of years rather than just a few. This made reading the book a little more unreal for me, because it is very hard for me to comprehend hundreds of years at the same time.

I would recommend this book to both boys and girls, because Ariel has male and female characters. If you do not have much of an imagination though, this is probably not the right book for you.
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