Tag Archives: fairy tales

Mighty Jack #1 (Ben Hatke)

20 Mar

So, if you like fairytale adaptations like I do, you’ll probably have a really good time with the first book in the Mighty Jack series.

 

Mighty Jack  

Squinklethoughts 1.  I’ve always had an issue with Jack and his magic beanstalk.  How could he have given up his cow for a few measly beans?  This time round, though, Ben Hatke makes Jack a little more mature, a little more kindly, a little less self-centred, and only a little … silly.  Oh, and he’s a little grumpy, but I didn’t mind that because I like talking back to grumpy characters.

2.  I’ve had a few kids of all grades and linguistic abilities read this already, and they’ve all enjoyed it.  The fourth-grader laughed out loud a lot, and the mom of the eighth-grader mentioned to me that he had stayed up late one night just so that he could finish the book.  An ESL student also told me that she really enjoyed it, which speaks to the universality of Hatke’s retelling.

3.  The illustrations in this book are aces.  The panels and page layouts are varied, so the story doesn’t lull, and I particularly enjoyed that there were a lot of things going on in the gutters.

4.  This isn’t just a happily-ever-after story.  Parts of the story are lip-quaver-inducing. For example, Jack’s mom has to work overtime because they need money for food; and Maddy, Jack’s sister, is autistic, so Jack often finds it difficult to connect with her.

5.  The first book ends on such a cliffhanger (reader, beware), so my kids are all waiting for the next installment.  I think that if the series stretches out to a few more book, it would be a prime opportunity for Hatke to develop Maddy’s character.  I wonder if she’ll become the true heroine of the story.

 

4 Squinkles

 

Ben Hatke’s Online Corners
Website | Twitter | Instagram | Chapters

 

Thank you, Raincoast Books, for sending me a copy of
Mighty Jack in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are my own.

Mechanica (Betsy Cornwell)

28 Jan

Happy 2016, Squinks! I can’t wait to hear about all the lovely books you read over the past month. Let me get you started with Betsy Cornwell’s Mechanica

 

Mechanica 

I need a second book! This story was just not enough … I want to know more! Mechanica will appeal to many readers, especially fairy-tale lovers like me. Now, hang on. I know some of you are not into retellings, which may be why you will pass up this book, but let me tell you why this version of “Cinderella” works.

Squinklethoughts1.  I like happy endings. I like dénouements that tie loose ends tightly to lead into satisfying conclusions. I like knowing that Murdoch, Sherlock, and Sherlock are (usually) going to solve their cases by the time the episode is over and that a happily-ever-after ending awaits me. I feel free. I can enjoy unfettered catharsis until I get to the end of the ride, knowing that everything will be okay. I knew that unless this “Cinderella” was faithful to the Perrault or Grimm publications, I would find a happy resolution, so I had no hesitation filling up my coffee mug and picking up Mechanica.

2.  I love strong female characters, and Nicolette Lampton is just that. But she’s not as unrealistic as some of her contemporaries – though she is just as unique and unlikely as they are. Instead of wielding swords and other weaponry, she uses her skills at inventing and innovating to improve not only her life but those of people around her. She is kind and empathetic, worrying about how her words affect others, and despite her disdain for doing the biddings of the Steps, she does her job with sincerity anyway. I think what I really loved most about Nicolette is her loyalty to Mr. Candery, her family’s erstwhile servant and friend. Her devastation at being separated from him shows me the very best of both her character and the human condition.

3.  You’ll enjoy the banter between Caro and Fin. You’ll love, even more, the air of mystery that surrounds their characters, especially considering they take to Nicolette quite quickly. The word “soupçon” came to mind while I was reading their first few meetings.

4.  My favourite character in the entire book is Jules, the loyal mechanical horse built by Nicolette’s mother and treasured by Nicolette herself. He ranks up there for me, along with the likes of other noble animals in literature like Charlotte, Stuart Little, and Hedwig.

5.  Okay, one thing I’m still not quite sure of, in terms of how I feel, is the ending. Remember when I said I like happy endings? Well, there is a happy ending here, but it didn’t quite sweep me off my feet. I guess it’s because I had assumed this would be the only book, so I really wanted lilies to fall from the sky. However, the ending is so different and unexpected that I have to applaud Cornwell for completely shocking me with it. It’s a bold choice, and I know many will agree with it, even if it’s not my jolt of java.

6.  If there were no sequel to Mechanica, I’d still be okay with the novel, and I do highly recommend it. The story is intriguing, the prose is beautiful, and the characters are endearing (well, except for the Steps).  Find a rather short, but delightful, excerpt to read online here to get you started on the adventure.

7.  But I really, really hope there is a follow-up because Cornwell’s reimagined world is a place I’d love to visit again.

8.  ** Update AFTER I had typed up the original review: Click here for some awesome Mechanica news! **

 

4.5 Squinkles

 

Betsy Cornwell’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram
Goodreads | Chapters

Thank you, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for sending me a copy of Mechanica in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

Hamster Princess #1: Harriet the Invincible (Ursula Vernon)

5 Oct

Now that we’ve got September under our belts, let’s talk about more books! In particular, I want to share with you a fantastic series opener that boasts a fun, feisty, and fierce heroine named Harriet, whose adventures I can’t wait to read more about.

 

Hamster Princess - Harriet the Invincible

 

In this twist to Sleeping Beauty, Harriet finds herself growing up overly protected in a castle for 10 years … until she’s finally told the story of the curse set upon her at her christening by a wicked fairy godmouse. Rather than feeling depressed at the news that she is doomed to fall into a deep sleep when she’s 12, Harriet rejoices in the fact that she has TWO WHOLE YEARS to do whatever she wants because, after all, she has to stay alive until she’s 12 for the curse to work. And so she begins the best years of her life (so far), travelling up and down the countryside with her loyal quail, Mumfrey. Meanwhile, her evil fairy godmouse has vanished mysteriously …

Squinklethoughts

1. Princess Harriet Hamsterbone is easily one of my favourite rodents in all of literature. She’s got wit and humour in spades, and she’s not afraid to show it. She’s also quite logical for a hamster, which is, you know, pretty cool. She knows her shortcomings, and she can work with them to do what needs to get done, including finding an elusive prince and fighting Ogrecats. Plus, Mumfrey’s pretty loyal to her, and that says a lot to me about what kind of friend she is.

Hamster Princess - Princessly Quote

2. Adults and children alike will enjoy Vernon’s wit, allusions, and general writing style. I found myself bursting out laughing at many of Harriet’s expressions. I love how she communicates with Mumfrey with just looks and qwerks. It’s not hard at all to read this book because Vernon’s writing is smooth and natural. You’ll forget that this is about rodents and other furry animals retelling Sleeping Beauty. You’ll like it just for what it is – a great, funny tale with an awesome heroine.

3. I’m all for varied narrative formats, and Harriet the Invincible is a great mixture of traditional narrative and graphic novel features. I love pictures, and people who think this book is “too young” for them on account of these pictures will miss out on something seriously great. Never mind that the drawings themselves are cute … Who wouldn’t want visual representations of the various facets of Harriet’s crazy personality? And Mumfrey’s expressions are just the greatest.  Click here for a preview of the book and the lovely illustrations!

4. I share birthday fairy dust with a princess. That makes me kind of princessly, too, right?

5. Princess Harriet, long may she reign. Find copies of this book in our library now.  The sequel, Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic, will be out March 2016.  I can’t wait!

 

Hamster Princess - Of Mice and Magic

 

4.5 Squinkles

Ursula Vernon’s Online Corners
Website | Other Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters

 

Thank you, Dial Books for Young Readers, for sending me a copy of Harriet the Invincible, in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

%d bloggers like this: