Some authors' books are automatic buys for me. Robin McKinley is one such author.
The story is set in a contemporary-ish, maybe future-ish alternate e...moreSome authors' books are automatic buys for me. Robin McKinley is one such author.
The story is set in a contemporary-ish, maybe future-ish alternate earth- a world that in many ways is familiar to the modern reader, but contains plenty of the unfamiliar. I was confused for awhile about the workings of the world of Shadows. McKinley uses unfamiliar words for things that aren't well-described at first. Only bit by bit does the reader glean the inner workings of the world in which Maggie, the main character, lives. I still don't feel like I have a complete handle on it.
McKinley writes people well. None of her characters succumbed to archetypical portrayals. They were all authentic, real, relatable people. I liked the slightly scattered but grounded voice of Maggie, the main character, who is trying to find her place in the world and in her family, now that her mom has married a man Maggie completely distrusts. She doesn't, strangely, seem to be thinking about the future. (I say "strangely" because she is in her last year of high school.) All her concerns are with the present, maybe because her stepfather and his shadows are seriously creeping her out and messing with her worldview. The stream-of-conscious narration was a little confusing at times, and I had to keep going back to reread passages because I felt like I had missed or misunderstood something. But as irritating as it could be, it also loaned authenticity to Maggie's teenage self.
I also like that she tied up the story, but left plenty of room for imagining what would come next for these people. (less)
If you're the mother of little girls, you're probably going to encounter princesses at some point in your reading repertoire. This can be delightful o...moreIf you're the mother of little girls, you're probably going to encounter princesses at some point in your reading repertoire. This can be delightful or painful, depending on how the author chooses to portray said princesses. The delightful ones get reread with enthusiasm, and the painful, simpering, irritating ones get quietly "lost" in whatever manner deemed necessary. Never fear, Dangerously Ever After by Dashka Slater and Valeria Docampo will be in the enthusiastically reread category, with no pain involved.
Princess Amanita is not your average princess. She loves all things dangerous, and her garden would make Morticia Addams proud. And then...
"One day, as the princess was watering a patch of itching thistles, a prince from a neighboring kingdom rode up. His name was Florian and he was out looking for for a dragon to slay, or a knight to challenge--or at least someone his own age to talk to."
The prince's arrival sets off a chain of funny events that culminate in the character growth of the princess (and undoubtedly of the young prince, too.)
My girls and I chuckled our way through the appealing absurdity of this refreshingly non-girly princess story. It appealed to my younger princess-loving daughters, and even my older princess-loathing daughter. I can see this being a hit with boys, too, because the traditional princess aspect isn't present. (It will help that the word doesn't feature in the title, but the word "danger" does.) All kids can identify with danger-loving Princess Amanita in some aspect, because at its heart, Dangerously Ever After is the story of a little girl whose way of identifying herself is called into question when she encounters events outside her comfort zone and control, which leads to growth and balance. That sounds heavy, doesn't it? But really that "lesson" is just naturally absorbed into the story.
This is the first book I've read by Dashka Slater, and I'm delighted with the introduction. The story's pacing, language, and length work beautifully as a read-aloud, perfect for ages 4/5 and up. It's one of the few picture books we've read that appeals to all my girls with equal enthusiasm. The illustrations by Valeria Docampo are a delight. Beautiful, vibrant, and fun, they perfectly highlight and compliment the text. The cool blue palette keeps the fierceness of Amanita's world in check. My girls loved the scorpion tail inspired hair-do, the suit-of-armour dresses, the prince's steed (a bicycle), and the strangely appealing garden.
For what it's worth, my girls and I are giving Dangerously Ever After a hearty thumbs up.
Published in Semptember 2012 by Dial Books For Young Readers Review copy generously supplied by publisher.
Nominated for the CYBILS 2012 by Charlotte of Charlotte's Library. (less)
I love that this story is about scarred, and very human Maeve. I wondered, back in book #4 (Heir to Sevenwaters) if she would ever get her own story....more I love that this story is about scarred, and very human Maeve. I wondered, back in book #4 (Heir to Sevenwaters) if she would ever get her own story. I like how this book ties up the Mac Dara storyline, and I'm so glad that Ciaran finds his purpose at last.(less)
Pearl (please note the irony of a creature of death named for the jewel symbolizing purity and innocence) is a young vampire from an old and distingui...morePearl (please note the irony of a creature of death named for the jewel symbolizing purity and innocence) is a young vampire from an old and distinguished vampire family. When she is stabbed through the heart by a unicorn, her whole world shifts. Suddenly she can be out in sunlight without burning up. When a diabolical plan hatched by her scheming parents lands her in high school, Pearl finds herself developing a conscience and friends. What will happen when her two worlds collide?(less)
I was so excited to read this sequel to Coronets And Steel, that came out a week after I finished that first book. And I wasn't disappointed. Excellen...moreI was so excited to read this sequel to Coronets And Steel, that came out a week after I finished that first book. And I wasn't disappointed. Excellent writing, same great characters, excitement, faster paced (than the first book), and a satisfying conclusion. (At least I'm guesssing it's the conclusion?) (less)
A smart, swash-buckling adventure-ish story (think Prisoner of Zenda), with just a touch of supernatural thrown in (think Brigadoon). The protagonist,...moreA smart, swash-buckling adventure-ish story (think Prisoner of Zenda), with just a touch of supernatural thrown in (think Brigadoon). The protagonist, Kim Murray, goes to Europe to try to trace her family's mysterious history and gets mistaken for someone else. I can't say much beyond that without ruining the story, except that I really enjoyed it and I'm sorry it's over, and I hope the sequel comes soon. (Is there going to be a sequel?)(less)