From School Library Journal
Grade 3-6-Gail Carson Levine combs the fairy tale archives for raw material, then weaves her own sly versions, producing retellings shot through with farcical wit, role-reversal, and empowered heroines. The six novellas that comprise The Princess Tales all take place in the Kingdom of Biddle, a land where the traditional fairy tale is turned on its head while retaining the habitual happy ending. Levine, who received the 1998 Newbery Honor award for Ella Enchanted (HarperCollins, 1997), captivates both voracious and reluctant readers with these lively retellings. In The Fairy's Mistake (1999), an adaptation of "Toads and Diamonds," Ethelinda finds that her fairy curse is unintentionally beneficial to the bad sister while harming the helpful one. "The Princess and the Pea" is renewed in The Princess Test (1999) as a romance where a blacksmith's daughter finds true love by outclassing royalty and winning the prince. Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep (1999) revives the "Rapunzel" tale and presents a heroine who chooses the terms of her enchantment. Cinderellis and the Glass Hill (2000) knits together the well-known "Cinderella" and the obscure "The Glass Hill," to craft the tale of a downtrodden male protagonist who wins the love of the princess. Young listeners may not know the story of "Puddocky," but they will recognize that a girl-turned-into-a-frog must have the kiss of the prince to break the spell in For Biddle's Sake (2002). The Fairy's Return (2002), the story of a princess and a commoner who find love, uses word play, riddles, and jokes to refresh the story of "The Golden Goose." Actress Lili Taylor narrates the tales in a breezy, conversational manner. There is little vocal differentiation between characters, yet the deliberate pace of phrasing supports listeners in following the thread of the story. Each tape is introduced and concluded with a lively unifying musical theme, and the overall aural quality is clear and sharp. Libraries will want to order The Princess Tales, Vol. I (HarperCollins, 2002), the compilation of these individual titles, to provide a print companion to the audio presentation. Eager listeners will be delighted with Levine's ingenious spin on familiar yarns.Mary Burkey, Grandview Heights City Schools,
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“Grand entertainment.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Genuinely delightful and funny.” (Kirkus Reviews)