Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Put this on your summer reading is such an inspiring read about the power of what we do!

Dear Susie: Read "Spindle's End" by Robin McKinley

Tonight you said, "Just lying here feeling tired and wishing I wasn't done reading Beauty."

Okay, I have your next assignment. Spindle's End, also by Robin McKinley. This time, the story of Sleeping Beauty.

Beauty was McKinley's first novel, and while Beauty doesn't identify itself as a debut, Spindle's End is more complex and without a few of the holes Beauty had. Remember how Beauty tied off a little too neatly? We both wanted a little more ending, and we were also puzzled about what message McKinley sent with her conclusion. What really happened when the spell broke?

Well, I think this retelling as a whole is more unexpected, more unpredictable, and yet still so satisfying. We get to know Katriona, a fairy, and how she accidentally kidnaps the baby princess; and then we get to know Rosie. Rosie, the stubborn, the diligent, the loyal, the princess who hides all her fairy gifts (a beautiful singing voice, curling hair, phenomenal embroidery abilities) by disliking everything associated with them. And we meet Bard! And Peony! And Narl! And the queen. Unsurprisingly, I love McKinley's side characters, and I think you'll find this ending more satisfying than Beauty, although you must prepare yourself for a non-traditional take. For me, the end even included a bit of weeping.

I think I'll go re-read it right now.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

"Beauty" by Robin McKinley

I can't believe you haven't read this! Beauty. It feels like it must be the original novelization, although people have been retelling "Beauty and the Beast" since Madame de Villeneuve first wrote it down in 1740. She was retelling who knows how many oral traditions. But McKinley's Beauty is the real deal. I think Robin interviewed Beauty herself.

Beauty is sweet and lovely and hopeful. A villain never shows up, not even a wicked step-sister. Beauty's sisters turn out to be girls I could be best friends with, and all you want is for them to understand. But who could understand that the Beast is not a savage beast but a noble one? You wouldn't know that without spending months locked up in a castle with him.

By the way, I love books that feast my senses, not just tell a good story. So when I think of Beauty, I think of rich treacly cake, candlelight reflecting off of goblets, and diamonds winking across voluminous skirts. Those images and flavors are just as much a part of the story as the love is.

Stop every couple chapters and tell me what you think, okay?