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Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow Hardcover – January 8, 2008
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Unnamed and rejected by her mother, a girl (known as the lass) jumps at the chance to leave her meager home after a great white bear offers her a deal: if she accompanies him to his ice palace for a year and a day, he will reward her and her family with wealth. At the palace, she is waited on by an odd assortment of creatures, including salamanders and a selkie, but there are sinister undercurrents beneath the luxury, leading to a series of horrifying deaths. George has adapted Norse myths and fairy tales to create this eerily beautiful, often terrifying world in which animals talk, trolls marry humans only to destroy them, and weather forces are actual characters. Mystery, adventure, the supernatural, and a touch of love are woven together to create a vivid, well-crafted, poetic fantasy for readers who have enjoyed works by Robin McKinley and Esther Friesner or who are ready to move from Gail Carson Levine’s fairy-tale adaptations to more sophisticated fare. Grades 7-10. --Frances Bradburn
About the Author
Jessica Day George is the author of Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, Dragon Slippers, and its sequel, Dragon Flight. Originally from Idaho, she studied at Brigham Young University and lived in Delaware and New Jersey before settling down in Salt Lake City, Utah. She had been a movie store clerk, librarian, bookseller, and school office lady before she got her big break. Jessica lives with her husband, their young son, and a five-pound Maltese named Pippin in a house that needs to be vacuumed much too often.
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Top customer reviews
Jessica Day George takes the White Bear King's story and revamps it. If you're familiar with Dennis McKiernan's "Once Upon a Winter's Night", then you'll know what "Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow" is about. However, if you've never come across the Norse fairy tale it's based on and love stories about princes, maidens, fauns, centaurs, gargoyles, and trolls then this is definitely it for you.
The story involves a similar premise to "Beauty and the Beast", but slightly different. In this fairy tale, the white bear is not a vain prince punished because he lacks humility. Instead, he is the victim of this entire story. By day he is a great white polar bear and by night he is human. He was cursed by a troll princess to find a maiden to live with him for a year and a day; she must not look at his human form by night or he will become the troll princess' new husband. She must not run away because she fears him as a bear either.
Quite the conundrum for a bear. We come to Jessica Day George's story with the introduction of a nameless fourth daughter in a family with several children. The mother disdains the birth of another "useless daughter" and refuses to name her as in George's story the custom dictates only the mother can name a child. She's come to be known as Lass with a very inquisitive nature and kind heart. Her older brother, Hans Peter, returns from traveling by sea and is undoubtedly very fond of his youngest sister. He teaches her to recognize shapes he whittles out of wood. Later we come to find out these symbols (images) are pieces of troll language.
Throughout the story, lore and tradition take a front lead. The mother believes in it so completely that she pushes everyone to pursue their fates and bring wealth to the family. George introduces the mythological White Stag as an element to inspire a change in Lass' life. Avoiding unnecessary spoilers, it grants her a boon - a name. Her own name. Somehow during it all, she comes into a power to understand animals. This gives her a bit of fame and not long after she's widely known for being able to communicate with animals a white polar bear shows up. Typical to the lore, she is asked to spend a year and a day with him. George's following of the fairy tale is complete, but it's the way the author shares it with us that makes the tale wonderful and worth a read.
George inspires readers to keep pace with her through beautiful literary flow. You can find yourself immersed in her words as you follow along with Lass on her journey to saving her brother, Hans Peter, and helping the white polar bear. I found myself enjoying the easy read of George's book to McKiernan's version of the story and hope you, the next reader, will take a chance and read her book too. There's a free sample copy of the first chapter available for download. She writes in third person, past tense, and revives the old traditional usage of a glossary at the end of her book (which I wasn't aware of until I finished! D'oh!) for those unfamiliar with some of the terms used.
This book is pretty simple -- if you've read a lot of fairy tales, or seen a lot of princess movies, or both, then there won't be very many surprises here, but it's so well-done that you won't really care if it's a bit predictable.
From what I understand, it's a very faithful retelling of the Norwegian fairy tale, "East of the Sun, West of the Moon," which shares a lot of common plot elements with "Beauty and the Beast." The main character is a girl with no name, known as "Lass," who has the magical ability to talk to animals. (If you're an animal lover, you will love Lass and her animal friends!) She meets an enchanted polar bear who needs her help breaking a curse, and the story takes off from there.
My only complaint about this book is that I wish it was longer! Normally I don't mind fast-paced stories, but in this case I really would have loved to spend more time with Lass and her friends, and I especially would have liked more development of her friendship with her polar bear.
Overall, this was a very fun book, and I would definitely recommend it for anyone who likes fairy tales, or fantasy stories, or Disney movies. This was my first Jessica Day George book, but I will definitely be reading more of her retellings in the future!
Lass' mother wanted a boy, not another 'useless' girl. So she refused to name her and when the white bear came, she jumped at the chance to give up her youngest daughter. Needless to say, I really did not like Lass' mother. Her older brother, the white bear, and her puppy, however, I ended up falling immensely in love with! Plus, the Lass' willingness to go to help her family out was heartwarming. I also don't blame her for wanting to get away from her insane family (besides her kind and wonderful older brother that is).
This retelling is well done with beautiful imagery and deep, strong characters. The ice castle felt almost real and I enjoyed even the servants dialogue and found that I would have liked to have learned more about them. I like that Jessica Day George was realistic enough to let rose get homesick and not just throw a baloney 'lived happily ever after even though no one did any work whatsoever' ending. The magic was...magical in a word! The way the events were laid out were believable and I truly did enjoy this story by Jessica.
I do recommend this book to any age if you are a lover of fantasy, romance, mystery, and retellings of classic 'fairy' tales. If you love any one of those genre's I'm almost sure you'll love this adorable book!