June Kramin's Reviews > Through the Mirror and Into Snow

Through the Mirror and Into Snow by Ann T. Bugg
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Nov 15, 2011

Not sure where to add this. Most comments re: the gnome narrating are nice while others really didn't like it. The books have been re-released and his POV edited out. I have a new found love for this series. I'm looking for reviews. Please holler if you are interested.

Dropping in comments from a Blog hop.
Val Muller: http://www.valmuller.com/2012/11/12/b...

This is the first in a series of middle-grade books following two girls, Valerie and Samantha. The girls are best friends, but they are total opposites. Sam is fashion-conscious while Val is not, for example. But their opposites make them good friends, and even Val’s mother shakes her head at the creative games they come up with. In this book, the two girls sneak out to the barn in search of a mysterious possum Val’s mother has been talking about. They follow the possum through a mirror that had been covered in a tarp and find themselves in a mysterious world—the world of Grimm’s Fairy Tales. (I won’t explain the possum; you’ll find out at the end.)

The girls recognize some of the things they encounter, such as a girl named Snow (as in Snow White) and other familiar elements from fairy tales with which Val is familiar. Befriending Snow and some other helpful characters, the girls must navigate the world (and the villains) of fairy tales. It’s definitely a book primarily for girls, as both protagonists are female, and the story focuses on the fairy tales having to do with evil stepmothers and marriages. It’s a clever mix of modern storyline and classic fairy tale, and the author mixes it up enough that it never feels stale. The reader is also kept in suspense during the times when Val and Sam cannot remember certain elements of the tales—remembering them would have helped them solve the problems they encounter much more quickly. This suspense will keep the reader turning the pages. I could see myself having enjoyed these books when I was a girl Val and Sam’s age.

The narrator is kept a mystery for the first chapter or so, until we learn the narrator is actually the garden gnome that stands watch in Val’s parents’ garden. At times, the narrator’s personality came through, which I found enjoyable. At other times, the narrator’s personality faded into the tale, which disappointed me because I found the gnome’s voice and tone humorous, adding to the story.

Val’s mother also plays an important role in the story. She’s the one who points out the possum in the barn, and she’s been writing a story (that she knows Val and Sam are reading) about Valerie and Samantha going on adventures. It’s even hinted at that the whole tale might be the result of reading Val’s mother’s manuscript and letting their imaginations go wild—though the girls agree that it was all too real to have been simply imagination.

I received a review copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. I’m reviewing the other two books as part of a blog tour, so stay tuned for more!
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01/09/2017 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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June Kramin Another from same hop - A Casual reader's Blog:

Valerie and Samantha are great friends. They love to spend time finding adventures, and their creativity never ends. When they spot a random possum one day, they decide they have to chase after it. This leads to the discovery of a strange mirror, and this mirror leads to an amazing world where all the fairy tales they only read about come true. When the girls pass through the mirror they meet a young girl named Snow, and Valerie and Samantha quickly realize who this girl really is. As they try to help Snow, the girls also meet several other fairy tale characters. They soon have the adventure of a lifetime!

This book had a super cute concept. I loved the idea of encountering fairy tales in real life. Valerie and Samantha were fun, and I think younger girls would find them very relatable. I enjoyed their fearlessness and resourcefulness. Those are awesome things for young girls to read about. The mishmash of stories was also really fun. It was a fun concept, and I liked the way they interacted together (both the story characters with each other and the characters with Valerie and Samantha).

One thing that kind of took me out of the story was the narrator. The story was told by a gnome as a narrator, but it was kind of jolting when he would insert himself into the story. This took me out of it a bit. However, I'm not sure that will be a problem for everyone. I think it won't read as awkward especially for younger readers. Overall though I thought it was a really fun book. I look forward to reading the next two books as well. I think young girls with a thirst for adventure and a love of fairy tales will definitely enjoy these books. They are age appropriate and quick to read. This was an enjoyable book, and I am ready to read the next one.

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June Kramin Review - Books Complete Me:

I LOVED each of these books. They are so cute and fun to read. Sam and Val have so many fun adventures. It also helps that Val knows every fairy tale, which plays to their strengths when they have each journey. Its also fun as I read along, I remember some things too. Perfect stories for those pre-teens!

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June Kramin another 5 star at Shar A Hart

Now for my review. 5 of 5 stars. I loved this book which might seem like a surprise since, on the surface, it appears to be geared toward girls. I will say that girls, young and adult alike, will love this book. But I must also say that any lover of children's/middle grade books will love it as well. The premise is fun and entertaining. I loved the modern day take on classic fairy tales.The characters are endearing, the imagery is outstanding, and having Marcus the gnome tell the story is very clever.

What I liked best: I loved the personalities of Val and Sam. They were typical children with great imaginations, which is really fun to see. The card/board game they play is priceless. I loved the interjections by Marcus the gnome. It really makes the story with his comments. Okay, call me immature (my wife does) but I laughed out loud at Val's stretch in the seven dwarves home followed by a "slight musical from her behind." Very funny!

What missed just a bit: Not really anything to mention here. If anything, the story is geared a bit towards girls more that boys. Once one gets boys to read it however, they will like it too.

Overall: I loved the book. I loved the happy ending, I loved the clever title (which didn't hit me until near the end of the book), and I loved the story. I know Through the Mirror and Into Snow is a good book when the main characters are like my good friends. I raced through the book, enjoying it, anxious to see what happens to the girls, but felt a bit sad when it ended. I will eagerly read the next book in this cute series.

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June Kramin Review from Geo Librarian:


I quite enjoyed this book, especially the garden gnome narrator. He adds a nice humorous touch to the story. With all the fairy tale retellings coming out there are some that are better than others, this is one of the better ones. I liked Valerie and Samantha's spunk and curiosity in exploring the world around them. They do of course get themselves in trouble by doing this, but then there wouldn't be a story if they didn't. One might expect the fantasy trope of a 'magic mirror' might be a bit cliche, but it doesn't feel that way. I recommend this series to middle grade fantasy lovers everywhere.

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June Kramin Review from Mother/Daughter Book Reviews:

What a clever idea! I love how the main characters Val and Sam travel to fairy tale land and meet not one, not two, but three princesses from some very familiar fairy tales. I also like the special twist at the end that reminds us that the stories of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella are not, in fact, original Disney movies! *ahem*

The story largely centres on Val and Sam meeting up with Snow White and we follow her story until she is safely housed with the notorious seven dwarves. While the dwarves are never named, they each exhibit special “characteristics” and we had lots of fun guessing which dwarf was which! It made me realize that my kids have never seen the movie Snow White because it is actually one of the more frightening Disney princess movies. We have read the book though so they did know about the seven dwarves.

As Val and Sam help Snow in her quest to find her father, they encounter baby Briar Rose/Aurora and are witness to the events around her birth (i.e., the uninvited fairy who casts a wicked spell on the baby). They also become entangled in the story of Danielle (aka Cinderella) who is held captive in her castle by her evil step-mother. Val and Sam then use their knowledge of the stories to help out all three princesses. We really liked the mix of familiar stories as seen and interpreted by the modern day characters of Val and Sam. For the record, my daughter was perturbed by the use of her name in the story … although I think neither of us really knows why!

The characters in the story are each uniquely developed. We meet the quirky Mom (Val’s) who looks after the menagerie of oddly-named animals on the farm and whose love of fantasy movies and fairy tales gets passed down to her daughter. Might I just say how I COMPLETELY appreciated the references to the movie “The Princess Bride” (LOVE that movie!). We are also introduced to Wilhelm and Dorothea, the loving childless couple who kindly take in Val, Sam, and Snow. They are the dream parents and Wilhelm turns out to be a bit of a surprise!

In some ways, Val and Sam are somewhat underdeveloped as main characters. We learn some things about their relationship as friends and they certainly have much of the dialogue, but I feel like there is more to be learned about the girls themselves. So much of the book is focused on what happens in the story, the relationships between the girls and the princesses, and the girls responding to situations they find themselves in. We learn more about Val and Sam through their responses and interactions with each other and with other characters than through their own thought processes. Regardless, they were solid likeable characters that I would still love to read about more.

My bottom line: This book was a delight to read with my children. The twists and turns in the plot as well as the weaving in of familiar fairy tales into a new story was so much fun! I would recommend this book and the next ones in the series to children aged 7+.

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