From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8-In this anthology, noted children's and adult fantasy writers play with the bones of traditional stories, songs, and characters to create 13 vibrant, imaginative short stories. Bruce Coville, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, and Jane Yolen are among the contributors. In the tales, the fisherman and his wife are viewed from across the water by a lonely motherless girl; fairies give Sleeping Beauty a century of time to explore the world before she wakes up and settles down; Lupe, in her mother's red cape, faces down the wolf. Some stories are set in the folkloric past, others weave in contemporary details such as harried urban life, computers, and cell phones with pleasing results. The final moving story, Katherine Vaz's "My Swan Sister," based on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Wild Swans," presents a family introducing their new baby, who is attached to an oxygen tank, to all of the pleasures of their New York neighborhood before she dies in the unfinished jacket her sister has knitted. The author says, "Rachel was a real little girl who did not live long, but-pretty as a swan, light as a feather-she managed to remind my family that even when time runs short, even when we cannot speak, we can still work wonders." There's something for everyone in this anthology, which proves once again the immense flexibility of traditional tales in the hands of gifted storytellers.
Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA
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Gr. 5-10. Not as exciting as Datlow and Windling's previous anthology, A Wolf at the Door (2000), these fairy-tale retellings are driven more by ideas and message than by story. In fact, the general introduction-- fairy tales were originally told to adults before they were sweetened and simplified--and the commentary on the stories are sometimes more interesting than the tales themselves. But the ideas are fun, and the lively, contemporary play with the old tales will entertain many teens. Neil Gaiman makes us think about Scheharazade. Will Shetterly questions where that "handy woodsman" really comes from to save Little Red Riding Hood. Far from passive, Rapunzel frees herself, and Sleeping Beauty actually wakes up regularly and secretly gets things done. Great for writing classes and discussion. Hazel Rochman
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