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Archives (Past Group Reads) > Discussion - Vasilisa and the Queen of Asps (SPOILERS)

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message 1: by Sherry (new)

Sherry (sherylmarasi) | 150 comments Mod
Discuss Vasilisa and the Queen of Asps here.


message 2: by Christy (new)

Christy Stewart (christyleighstewart) Since this is a children's book I wanted to look at it in that context. It doesn't seem like this is a book a child would read to themselves, the pace and the lack of visual stimulation would have them putting it down quickly, so I would suggest at lease some illustrations be added. Now, as a book you would read TO a child, it does much better. It is the standard fairy tale adventure you could put down and pick right up the next night without having to have a reminder of what you had read. It has the feeling of entering the universe the author created even after stepping away from it.

As an adult, and as one who is a big fan of fairy tales, I was hoping for something a little more creative. I know I've been spoiled with a lot of modern fairy tale writers, but I was hoping for something...new, something fresh. It would have been great if the story didn't fit so squarly in the fairy tale templates, it had the feeling of being a high school creative writing assignment. The writer is talented, has a good style and execution, but hasn't yet discovered the art of writing. The story has a way of trying to seem to perfect, that she wrote what was expected out of a fairy tale, and that leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not something that you will take away with you or remember once you complete it.

I really appreciated the feminist qualities of the story in where Vasilisa didn't want a husband, and how her mother told her she needed to find herself before she could find a husband. I literally say that to my friends all the time. I wish it hadn't been so heavy handed though, instead of just saying "You don't need a husband. Find yourself first." It would have been better to have that be a part of Vasilisa's character development (not that she had any). Instead of the story being her readiness for a man, It would have been a much needed learning tool for young girls if Vasilisa discovered through the story she didn't need a man and THEN at end the 'When you find yourself' was stated. As it is, it's another story of "Some day your prince will come." Literally.


message 3: by Svetlana (new)

Svetlana Kovalkova-McKenna I always thought an author should read a few bad reviews alongside with the good ones. After I publish the book, I do not hope for everyone to like it, I just want it to find a few readers who would absolutely love it. It is like finding a close friend, someone who "speaks your language", not everyone can click with everyone else.

A book well matched with a reader is a powerful thing. I was lucky growing up to have had a lot of books like that. In my heart of hearts "Vasilisa" is perfect, because it accomplished what I wanted it to when I set out to write it and because my children loved it, loved it over hundreds of children's books in our several thousand and coming books home library.
A book and a reader are like a door and a key. My kind of reader will be able to open the door to "Vasilisa" and understand everything that is there. Everyone is invited to try. And that is true of every author.
Well, maybe not, because I cannot imagine anyone not liking Dr. Seuss.

You have a valid point about illustrations Christy. The reason I did not lavishly illustrate the book (I have been an artist after all for over 2o years) was to keep the cost down for the reader. If I had added color illustrations, the cost of the book would have gone up 5 times.

The temptation was always there: the glorious and scary Queen of Asps, pale and mysterious Prince of Asps, magic caves, thousands years old witch with attitude, night forest, snakes dancing by the fire, gypsies,...

I think "Vasilisa" works great as a chapter book, because the story carries the reader well without illustrations.

But you gave me a brilliant idea. I may publish new editions of all my books and and add "draw your own illustrations feature". I can add frames for reader's illustrations throughout the books. Since the target reader is 7-12 it should work out great!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks.
That is why I think authors should read bad reviews alongside with the good ones, you never know what will send your mind spinning into the right direction.


message 4: by Christy (new)

Christy Stewart (christyleighstewart) I didn't mean for the review to be bad! I did enjoy reading it and, like I said, I appriciated the you-don't-need-a-man note.

I'm glad I could be of some help though.


message 5: by Alison (new)

Alison | 13 comments The first mistake I made when reading this book, was that I was trying to read it as a young adult book, and it's not. I haven't read a children's book since I was a child and found that I had to re-adjust the way I thought about it. At first, I wanted there to be much more description; of characters, feelings, scenes etc. But I realized after a while that you don't do that in a children's book because it would be lost on them.

When I imagined that I was reading it aloud to a small child I really enjoyed the story. It was a lovely children's fairytale and brought back memories of the kind my mother used to read to me before bedtime.

I am sure that lots of children would love having this read to them while tucked up in bed, before the lights go out. Charming.


message 6: by Svetlana (new)

Svetlana Kovalkova-McKenna Alison wrote: "The first mistake I made when reading this book, was that I was trying to read it as a young adult book, and it's not. I haven't read a children's book since I was a child and found that I had to ..."

I am glad you saw it as a fairytale that can be read aloud. When I wrote it, my children were still in a read-aloud-to age, and, I think, I directed the book a bit to be this way. It also works well as a chapter book, in my opinion. The best audience for this book would be 7-12, but could be as young as 4 or 5, depending on a child.
I just wanted to drop a line and thank you for reading the book and for leaving a review.


message 7: by Holly (new)

Holly Christine | 7 comments I enjoyed the story and the imagery of Vasilisa’s magical world. I also appreciated the underlying messages (the neighbor that took care of Vasilisa’s father only for want of the emerald earrings, the repaying of favors and debts, the whole marriage thing).

Svetlana definitely has a wonderful imagination, and if I were five or six this story would have consumed me. In fact, I just know I would have gone off searching for the two black rocks, completely convinced that this world was mine as well.

Like the other readers, I had a difficult time understanding the intended audience. This would be a delightful story to read to a young girl (5-7). I also agree (especially because of Svetlana’s incredible artistry) that pictures would have taken the story to the next level and clearly defined an audience. That being said, I understand the cost involved in the decision.




message 8: by Svetlana (new)

Svetlana Kovalkova-McKenna Holly wrote: "I enjoyed the story and the imagery of Vasilisa’s magical world. I also appreciated the underlying messages (the neighbor that took care of Vasilisa’s father only for want of the emerald earrings, ..."

I always have a hard time trying to pinpoint the age of an intended reader. My own children are gifted, which means among other things -- very advanced readers as well.
My son read as an adult at age 3, daughter -- at age 4. The books they read are all over the map as far as age requirements go.
So my best guess for "Vasilisa" was 4-7 as read-aloud-to and age 7-12 as a chapter book.
I have seen 5 year olds finish it in one sitting by themselves and I had 8 year olds say it was difficult to read.
Anyway, reader's age aside, thank you for your great review!


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