Sunday, April 17, 2016

Giveaway: Fairest of All (Sarah Mlynowski)

Title:  Whatever After: Fairest of All (book #1 in Whatever After series)

Author:  Sarah Mlynowski

Publisher Summary:
Mirror, mirror, on the basement wall . . .

Once upon a time a mirror slurped up me and my brother, and magically transported us inside Snow White's fairy tale.

Then we stopped Snow White from eating the poisoned apple. Hooray! Or not. If Snow White doesn't die, she won't get to meet her prince or get her happy ending. Oops.

Now it's up to us to fix Snow White's story. And then, fingers crossed, find our way home.

Evaluation:
I love fairy tales, so I have been eyeing this series for a while. The cover art and titles are highly appealing for readers, especially middle grade girls. I finally listened to the book on Hoopla (great site for all things audio visual). 

The Good
Fairest of All is a creative retelling of the Snow White fairy tale. I enjoyed all the twists and turns the characters went through to set things right after “ruining” the traditional narrative.

There is a strong middle grade voice in Abby, the main character. She is determined, smart, and fiercely loyal.  Her dreams for her future are big. At times, she can be a bit inflexible and judgmental.  However, she matures some in these areas. For instance, she learns that there is more than one way to have a happy ending. 

Her sweet little brother Jonah is her co-star.  He is often able to see a situation in a unique way, which is helpful to Abby and the other characters. He is incredibly optimistic!  In many ways, he is a foil to his older sister.

The fairy tale characters are developed beyond the traditional tale. The author provides a fresh take on the dwarfs and the wicked step-mother (Evil Evelyn). In the beginning, Snow is depicted similar to the Disney version—submissive and helpless—but she develops a stronger sense of self and empowerment.  The fairy tale ending is rewritten in a way that reflects those changes.  

Family is a core motif. There is the typical sibling banter, but overall Abby and Jonah get along well. Abby grows to appreciate her brother more during their adventure.  Both children are closely connected to their parents.  Abby is concerned about getting back before their parents realize they are gone because she does not want them to worry.  Snow adopts the dwarfs as her family.  She invites them all to live with her in the castle.  

The narrative is a blend of fantasy, magic, and realism.  Of course, fairy tales fall under the fantasy genre and magic sends them to the alternate universe.  Most of what goes on both in the real and fantasy worlds is rooted in realism. For instance, Evil Evelyn does not use magic. She uses poison and disguises. The only magical element is in the mirrors—the one that sends them to the fairy tale world and the one in Evil Evelyn’s room.

The story is humorous at times and thrilling at others. The characters have to work together to problem solve and to help one another which are great character qualities to highlight for middle grade readers. 

The Bad
The mirror commands the children not to tell their parents about their adventure or it will put them in danger. I realize it is a fantasy story. In the real world, though, it is a red flag if an adult tells a child not to tell their parents about something.  I just mention it because some parents may want to have a discussion about the issue. 

Occasionally, the language is a bit silly. There is some slang. A few references to modern day life may become outdated with time. The target audience will not mind these issues at all.  These observations are from the English teacher in me. 

The Verdict
Overall, Fairest of All depicts strong females and takes young readers on an exciting ride.  I recommend it for middle grade readers (especially girls) who enjoy fantasy and fairy tales (I mean, who doesn’t?). 


Visit Ramblings of a Wanna Be Scribe for more Middle Grade recommendations.

3 comments:

  1. Cute sounding story. I'll keep it in mind to recommend. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. Sounds like a good fairy tale story! Thanks for the review!
    - Vi

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  3. I read this one, and enjoyed it! But, you make an excellent point, with the mirror and other drawbacks to the story. Thanks for featuring!

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