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The Princess Tales, Volume I (Princess Tales (HarperTrophy)) Paperback – November 26, 2002
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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,
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Grand entertainment.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Genuinely delightful and funny.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Top customer reviews
Well, I was sold. I bought this book and Volume II and it was the beginning of the turn around. They helped to inspire the love of reading I was hoping for with my daughter, and now she willingly reads a wider variety of books.
Levine bends gender roles ("Cinderellis" is a boy), explores the downside of traditionally positive fairy "gifts" (Sleeping Beauty is 10 times smarter than anyone else in the world but is lonely and frustrated because no one wants to hear her wisdom), has a flair for absurdities and asks questions that most people would never think (surely the OCD King and Queen must want a dried pea under all those mattress as a cooked pea would just smush?). She understands that being a prince or a princess doesn't guarantee happiness but that no matter what one's station in life, all people are vulnerable to lonliness and misunderstanding and that love and acceptance for the inner person is more valuable than gold and land.
These are great stories to read out loud - we laughed a lot, over and over.
We would love to see a third volume of these! Many writers have tackled new versions of classic tales, but I can't think of any that match these in wit and cleverness. I highly recommend them!