Children's Book ReviewsThe Internet Writing Journal, February 2000 Page Two of Two
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Illustrated by Chris Molan, Adapted by Jane E. GerverDK Publishing (Eyewitness classics), Oct., 1999.
Hardcover, 64 pages
Ages 9 - 12
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Little Women by Louisa May Alcott is one of America's best loved books. The classic story tells the tale of the four March sisters, the irrepressible Jo, Amy, Meg and Beth, growing up in New England during the Civil War. This Eyewitness Classic edition takes excerpts from the original novel and rewrites them in language that a child can understand. The story is illustrated beautifully, and the text is supplemented throughout with anecdotes and explanations about the day to day life of people in the 1860s. Also included is a full description of Louisa May Alcott and explanation of her place in literature: her strong female characters helped set the stage for more positive and outgoing roles for women in books. She was also the first woman registered to vote in Concord, Massachusetts after women received the right to vote in local elections there in 1879.
The Eyewitness Classics have a valuable function: they help introduce younger children to the classics of literature in a way that is sure to make them curious about the full-length versions of the book. The illlustrations and explanations of the customs and mores of the times will make for interesting discussions with parents who supervise the reading.
Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep by Gail Carson Levine, Illustrated by Mark ElliotHarperCollins, September 1999.
Hardcover, 107 pages
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Newbery award-winning author Gail Carson Levine has turned her talents towards traditional fairy tales (See, The Princess Test). Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep is a retelling of the story of Sleeping Beauty, but with some major twists. Princess Sonora received two rather unfortunate gifts at her christening from the assembled fairies. She was fated to prick her finger on a spindle and die, which was modified by another fairy to be merely a hundred years' sleep. But the worst gift was being made ten times as smart as anyone in the whole world. She drives everyone in the castle crazy with her long expositions on the dwindling habitats of unicorns and in devising better ways to milk cows and the like. When Sonora finally does prick her finger and falls into a hundred years' sleep, it is up to a prince from a neighboring kingdom (who, incidentally likes nothing better than having his endless questions answered) to wake Sonora from her long sleep and restore her kingdom.
Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep is a laugh out loud funny retelling of a fairy tale classic that Gail Carson Levine has turned upside down. The dialogue is witty and wise, and Levine shows off her fine sense of the absurd. Mark Elliot's lively pen and ink illustrations are a perfect accompaniment to the text. Don't miss any of the Princess Tales. Highly recommended.
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