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Briar Rose Mass Market Paperback – March 15, 2002


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Briar Rose + The Classic Fairy Tales (Norton Critical Editions) + The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Teen; Reissue edition (March 15, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765342308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765342300
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (216 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Windling's Fairy Tale series has produced several excellent fantasy novels inspired by classic fairy tales. This is one of the series's most ambitious efforts, and only a writer as good as Yolen ( Sister Light, Sister Dark ) could bring it off. Yolen takes the story of Briar Rose (commonly known as Sleeping Beauty) and links it to the Holocaust--a far-from-obvious connection that she makes perfectly convincing. Rebecca Berlin, a young woman who has grown up hearing her grandmother Gemma tell an unusual and frightening version of the Sleeping Beauty legend, realizes when Gemma dies that the fairy tale offers one of the very few clues she has to her grandmother's past. To discover the facts behind Gemma's story, Rebecca travels to Poland, the setting for the book's most engrossing scenes and its most interesting, best-developed characters. By interpolating Gemma's vivid and imaginative story into the larger narrative, Yolen has created an engrossing novel. She handles a difficult subject with finesse in a book that should be required reading for anyone who is tempted to dismiss fantasy as a frivolous genre.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

A young woman's promise to her dying grandmother leads her on a quest to discover the truth of her own family's mysterious beginnings in this grim retelling of the classic fairy tale "Briar Rose," or "The Sleeping Beauty." In Yolen's modern-day version, the wall of thorns becomes a barbed-wire prison, while the sleeping princess is both victim and heroine. The latest in the "Fairy Tale" series showcases Yolen's skill at transforming the real world into a realm of fantasy. A good selection for adult and YA fantasy collections.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Born and raised in New York City, Jane Yolen now lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts. She attended Smith College and received her master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts. The distinguished author of more than 170 books, Jane Yolen is a person of many talents. When she is not writing, Yolen composes songs, is a professional storyteller on the stage, and is the busy wife of a university professor, the mother of three grown children, and a grandmother. Active in several organizations, Yolen has been on the Board of Directors of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, was president of the Science Fiction Writers of America from 1986 to 1988, is on the editorial board of several magazines, and was a founding member of the Western New England Storytellers Guild, the Western Massachusetts Illustrators Guild, and the Bay State Writers Guild. For twenty years, she ran a monthly writer's workshop for new children's book authors. In 1980, when Yolen was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree by Our Lady of the Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts, the citation recognized that "throughout her writing career she has remained true to her primary source of inspiration--folk culture." Folklore is the "perfect second skin," writes Yolen. "From under its hide, we can see all the shimmering, shadowy uncertainties of the world." Folklore, she believes, is the universal human language, a language that children instinctively feel in their hearts. All of Yolen's stories and poems are somehow rooted in her sense of family and self. The Emperor and the Kite, which was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1983 for its intricate papercut illustrations by Ed Young, was based on Yolen's relationship with her late father, who was an international kite-flying champion. Owl Moon, winner of the 1988 Caldecott Medal for John Schoenherr's exquisite watercolors, was inspired by her husband's interest in birding. Yolen's graceful rhythms and outrageous rhymes have been gathered in numerous collections. She has earned many awards over the years: the Regina Medal, the Kerlan Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Society of Children's Book Writers Award, the Mythopoetic Society's Aslan Award, the Christopher Medal, the Boy's Club Jr. Book Award, the Garden State Children's Book Award, the Daedalus Award, a number of Parents' Choice Magazine Awards, and many more. Her books and stories have been translated into Japanese, French, Spanish, Chinese, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Afrikaans, !Xhosa, Portuguese, and Braille. With a versatility that has led her to be called "America's Hans Christian Andersen," Yolen, the child of two writers, is a gifted and natural storyteller. Perhaps the best explanation for her outstanding accomplishments comes from Jane Yolen herself: "I don't care whether the story is real or fantastical. I tell the story that needs to be told."

Customer Reviews

Highly recommended for High schoolers and mature middle schoolers.
Wayward
I love fairy tales and I love Jane Yolen, so I can't think of a more fitting combination.
Jill Plenge
Jane Yolen did an amazing job of writing a great story that all people can enjoy.
Deanna Messner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By S. Weiner on December 6, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I tend to disagree with the reviewers who say this book is unsuitable for readers under 14. I was 9 or 10 when I first read it 15 years ago and though I may not have grasped everything in it with quite the same degree of understanding that I bring to it nowadays, it certainly wasn't unsuitable. Children are far more capable of handling dark subject matter than most adults will admit. As for the 'homosexual themes' I've seen some reviewers mention... The Nazis persecuted homosexuals nearly as zealously as they persecuted the Jews. This is historical fact, and one that tends to be overlooked. Kudos to Jane Yolen for addressing it. I wouldn't necessarily hand this book to a child under 10, but it's definitely appropriate for 6th graders and up.

As for the book itself, Yolen does a lovely job of interweaving past and present, fairy tale and reality. "Gemma's" version of Briar Rose has long been one of my favorite modern retellings. There are some issues with the book--the shallowness of the minor characters, the inordinate convenience of Josef Potocki's appearance in the story--but these are easily brushed aside due to the cruel beauty of the fairy tale, which is indisputably the highlight of the novel. The only major problem is this:

Granted, the characters believed Gemma came to the US before the war. But. Are we truly to believe that a Jewish family descended from an Eastern European immigrant never made the connection between the details in Gemma's unique telling of Briar Rose and the Nazis? Big black boots, shiny silver eagles, deadly "mist", and no one but the heroine lives happily ever after, yet none of them picked up on the Nazi references?
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 29, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was my first book by Yolen. I had heard great things about her, especially about this book and given my recent fascination with fairy tales I thought I would give it a try. It was a quick read, easily because it was fascinating and very hard to put down. Ultimately, it left me feeling very, very sad, bordering on devastation yet...hopeful somehow. Another book I must buy.

Briar Rose takes the classic fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty and links it to the Holocaust. Rebecca, the youngest of her grandmother Gemma's granddaughters, has grown up listening to Gemma's rendition of Sleeping Beauty. Upon Gemma's death, Rebecca realizes that the story is one of the few clues to Gemma's past, a past that Gemma makes her swear on her deathbed to discover. Her search carries her to Poland and into the heart of the horrors of the Holocaust.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kat on January 26, 2000
Format: Library Binding
I read this book back in seventh grade. I am now a freshman in college and i must say that to this day- it is my all time favorite book. The way that Jane Yolen is able to take the story of the holocaust and intertwine it with the fairy tale of briar rose is stunning! The book leaves you on the edge of your seat and the ending leaves you breathless! I highly reccomend this book to young and old alike! Happy reading!
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18 of 23 people found the following review helpful By N. Lee on April 16, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was introduced to Jane Yolen by her short story in After the King: A Tribute to J.R.R. Tolkien (another great read...highly recommended!). On a recent trip to the library I looked for a book by her on a whim. Briar Rose caught my eye. Last summer I took a trip to Poland, and during my stay visited Auschwitz. Since then I have been very interested in Holocaust stories. Briar Rose, though not a true account, is still a very moving story. It is very well-written and the pace is good, but make sure you have tissues nearby! (Unless I'm just the overly-sensitive type, which I doubt.) I've had to order a copy for my personal library, and I plan to read it again as soon as UPS delivers it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 27, 1999
Format: Turtleback
I know that many people consider this a fantasy. I, however, believe it is simply someone taking these two stories, one harrowing and terrifying, the other beautiful and peaceful, and creating a wonderful tale of a family and a past. Definitely worth reading!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Judy K. Polhemus VINE VOICE on December 7, 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Gemma's last wish is that grand-daughter Becca find the castle; her dying words are that she is Briar Rose. However, the truth is entangled in the single fairy tale that Gemma tells her three grand-daughters throughout their lives. The tale she tells is not standard fare. This tale is elusive. What does it mean that Gemma is Briar Rose? How could a castle be part of Gemma's past?

The French gave us the word plot through "plait," which refers to the unraveling the reader must do as she reads. Imagine a plait of cloth lying horizontally with the loose part on the left (reading occurs left to right) as a closed book. Open the book, read and unravel, read and unravel. This is the task Gemma has given Becca: Unravel the past. The family knows nothing of Gemma's past. Her only clue is the fairy tale: Briar Rose, a new telling of Sleeping Beauty.

The audience knows the power of fairy tales to hide universal truths, that sometimes an external force, in the form of a handsome prince, defeats evil characters and their spells, and sometimes the inner power of the character is the impetus. Jane Yolen's brilliant retelling of Sleeping Beauty through Gemma's tale, is one novel in the Fairy Tales series begun by Terry Windling, in which writers retell a fairy tale in a modern setting. In this tale is hidden the evil of the Holocaust in one hideous castle run by Nazis, and one princess, Briar Rose, awakened by the power of a kiss. No more than that will I tell.

Yolen employs a favorite literary device in Gemma's telling of the tale. In the beginning chapters the reader is supposedly given the finished plait of the story.
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