Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Snow in Summer

Snow in Summer by Jane Yolen
As a young child with hair black as ebony, skin fair as snow and lips red as blood, Summer leads a fairy tale life: her mother is beautiful, her father is the king of the garden, and all is well.  But when her mother dies in childbirth, Summer learns about living the middle part of a fairy tale, the part of the story where the wicked stepmother moves in and the young girl runs away to the forest to find safety with a bunch of little men.

Set in Appalachia in the 1930's, Jane Yolen recasts not just the "Sleeping Beauty" story but several other classic Grimm tales as well, with a fresh voice and an intriguing cast. 

No cussing (the word "witch" is noted as a side-step for another word involving mama dogs) and no sex (although Hunter clearly intends to have his wicked way with Summer before carving out her heart), and only a bit of blood...but there are several very poisonous snakes to watch for.

Recommended for ages 10 to adult.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Okeksyk, Sarah. Ivy.  (graphic novel)
Ivy is a talented high school artist growing up in a small town in Maine.  Her mom wants her to study business at a local college, but Ivy wants to study far away from her hometown as possible.  Her emotional roller coaster sometimes derails Ivy's good intentions, but gradually she works towards creating her own kind of freedom.

Although Ivy was published in 2011, one gets the feeling that it is set in a much earlier time.  She exchanges hand-written letters with her long-distance boyfriend, and they call each other on land-line telephones (the kind with cords!).  Still, the emotional journey towards adulthood is universally uncomfortable, and the story is well-drawn and well-told.  This graphic novel features on-page sex (tactful, but unmistakable), drug use and under-age drinking as well as lots of cussing and depictions of some seriously dysfunctional families.  Ivy is not a happy story, but the end promises just a bit of hope for the future.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Wonder Show


The Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby
The year is 1939.  14-year-old Portia Remini was abandoned by her family at McGreavey's Home for Wayward Girls, but she runs away when her best friend dies tragically.  Through a series of accidents and coincidences, Portia ends up working as a cook in Mosco's Traveling Wonder Show.  There, Portia meets and befriends the Wild Albinos, the Fat Lady, the Bearded Lady, the Strong Man and the other freaks, and tries to find her own place among them while looking for the father who has been missing for many years.
Circus and sideshow history and jargon intermingle with the tale of a girl who collects stories and seeks the truth among people whose livelihoods depend on falsehood and misdirection.  Some cussing.  No kissing or sex, but there are tactful descriptions of the "blowoff" part of the show where the conjoined twins dance naked for a crowd of rubes.
Ages 12 to 18.