- Age Range: 10 and up
- Grade Level: 5 and up
- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Puffin Books; Reprint edition (November 14, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0142421979
- ISBN-13: 978-0142421970
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,114,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Snow in Summer Paperback – November 14, 2013
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"Beautifully written and deliciously scary."
"Yolen spins an interesting variation of the classic Snow White story."
"A well-imagined and well-told addition to collections of retold fairy tales."
—School Library Journal
About the Author
Jane Yolen is the author of over three hundred books, including Owl Moon, The Devil's Arithmetic, and How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? Her books and stories have won numerous awards and accolades including the Caldecott Award, National Book Award Finalist, Golden Kite Award, Christopher Medal, The World Fantasy Award, Sydney Taylor Book Award, Maud Hart Lovelace Award and numerous state award lists. She splits her time between Massachusetts and St. Andrews, Scotland.
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Top Customer Reviews
Instead, Lemuel marries a beautiful stranger before abruptly sinking into an even more profound state of listlessness. Cousin Nancy feels unwelcome and withdraws from the new household, and Summer, with the eagerness of any child seeking a parent's affection, does everything her stepmother asks her to. When, over the course of the next two years, her stepmother becomes critical, then abusive, Summer feels ashamed and responsible, but as Cousin Nancy gradually begins to intervene, Summer builds up some defenses, both emotional and magical. Still, neither Cousin Nancy nor Summer suspect precisely how dangerous Stepmama's plans are until it's nearly too late.
Stepmama takes thirteen year old Summer to meet Hunter, a man who is presumably interested in courting a girl ten years his junior, but is actually planning to help Stepmama carry out her nefarious scheme...
Yolen's short story "Snow in Summer", first published in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's anthology Black Heart, Ivory Bones, served as the basis for this novel, and up until this point, this very effective tale is told gradually and in great detail by three different narrators, Summer, Cousin Nancy and Stepmama. Unfortunately, once Summer escapes Hunter's clutches, Yolen takes a few missteps and the story loses its tension and immediacy.
Summer finds a cottage in the woods with seven beds. The first six belong to German immigrants, gem miners all shorter than Summer, even though they are adult men. The brothers had lived with their mother until she died giving birth to her seventh child, their youngest brother, who is away attending university. (Their father died shortly afterward, of a broken heart.) Despite the introduction of six new characters, the miners remain woefully underdeveloped, a tidy, avuncular group distinguishable only by their names and a few physical features.
Summer settles into the household, her disguised Stepmama finds her on page 223, and from there the story rushes headlong towards its conclusion. And therein lies the book's greatest flaw. This juvenile novel is only 243 pages long, and Summer's life until her escape from Hunter occupies the first 194 pages---about 80% of the book!---while the rest of the tale occupies the remaining 20%. Thus, the balance of the story feels rushed and rudimentary, an inchoate outline lacking the detail and emotion of the beginning.
I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading this book, because parts of it are so well-written, but it's a bit disappointing to see such a fine beginning end so scantily and hastily.
Jane Yolen's retelling of the Snow White story is eerie and immediate. The Appalachian setting adds both simplicity and strangeness as we watch the child's life changed, first by her mother's death and her father's withdrawal and later by the menacing incursion of the woman who marries her father.
Snow in Summer is almost a horror story when it comes to the wicked stepmother. Although the child named Summer suffers when her father ignores her, at least she has Cousin Nancy, who continues to care for her, stopping by the house each day to get her ready for school and cook her meals.
Most of the chapters in Yolen's story are told by Snow in Summer herself, but some are memories recounted by Cousin Nancy and even Stepmama. When Snow (as Stepmama names her) watches her father snared in a graveyard by the woman from up the mountain, there is clearly dark magic involved. Early in the book--in Stepmama's first memory chapter--we learn that the woman was trained by a great conjurer. We also find out that Stepmama can increase her personal magic by taking someone else's years. She has plans for Snow, as well as for Snow's father and his property. But she claims she won't make Snow and her father suffer--too much. As she tells herself, "After all, I'm not a wicked woman."
The creepy little details are actually more striking than the things Stepmama tells us in her chapters. The way she has one green eye and one blue eye. The way she must have Snow's permission to enter the house, like a vampire. The terrible spell she casts on Snow's father. The glass bottles of potions.
"'They could make you very sick, Snow,' she cautioned, clinking a long red fingernail against the glass of the darkest bottle. Something almost seemed to stir in the depths, something with hands and feet and closed eyes. Something like a dead baby."
That's even before Stepmama takes Snow to the church with the snake handlers. And before Snow learns that there are worse things than snakes.
This well-crafted story gradually builds in dread. (Though the seven dwarfs--well, six plus a brother off at college--provide a bit of comic relief.) The intense, atmospheric storytelling breathes new life into a story we all think we know. Yolen's best character is Stepmama, who makes the Disney villains look insipid by comparison. You may be a little disappointed when the story is over and things get better for Snow. No more dread. Sigh--The End.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Since I can't give a better review than Molly, please read hers.Read more