Snow & Rose offers a wonderful reading experience.

Snow & Rose, by Emily Winfield Martin, is nothing short of a pleasure.  It is the kind of book you will be proud to give as a gift; a book you secretly hope someone slides off your bookshelf to admire.  The production of this book, especially considering the book market today and that the book is published by a large publishing company, Random House, is absolutely fantastic, and nearly exquisite.

This is a beautiful book.  Emily Martin does a wonderful job with her illustrations.  They have a classic fairy tale look to them; however, they also offer a bit of modern whimsy you may miss and won’t notice until you return to them, which you will, and inspect them more carefully.  Also, the details stand out.  The page numbers have a little flair of their own; the chapters begin and end artfully. Gold foil lettering stands out on the cover and spine, and you’ll enjoy the interior, introductory panels that open the book and the eye-catching illustrations that help pull you into the story while also pulling you away from it by their demand to be appreciated.  Finally, the clean, clear font choices, the lettering of the chapter headings, and the weight of the paper all say this is a book of which to be proud. 

“And the ending of that story is the beginning of this story. Snow and Rose didn’t know they were living in a fairy tale—people never do.” 

The book opens with a simple exposition ending with this quote.  It is an effective setup; because of what we know about these girls, we can’t help but wonder where the author will take our characters.  While thinking about how to start talking about this story, it really strikes me how real their mother’s grief is, and how that creates the lack of supervision which allows the girls the freedom to experience their story.

As the story unfolds and the cast of characters find their places, one thing that works well is the conflict between the Huntsman and the forest animals.  As the questions and suspicions arise about the real nature of the monstrous forest creatures and the threats they pose, the threat of violence takes on a more immediate concern due to how it could impact the families involved.  Keeping in mind that this is a children’s book, I still feel this is an area whose dramatic effect could have been even more pronounced if it was explored a little more.

The librarian, and more specifically, the library, was a great component of the story.  The library of things, and the stories yet to be told that the things represent, gave a magical element to the story that keeps your attention and makes you guess what wondrous events might soon take place.  I enjoyed seeing these stories find their place in the larger narrative and wanted even more of this part.

As an antagonist, and the character who most resembles his counterpart in the old Grimm’s version of the fairy tale, the dwarf works.    He isn’t the most memorable character because he seems a little flat, but the unveiling of his true character throughout the story is well-paced and moves the plot in an engaging way. 

Overall, Snow & Rose is a beautifully published book and offers a well-told story you and your young readers will enjoy.  Reading this story aloud and appreciating the art’s quality together is an experience you’ll long remember even if you won’t recall all the specifics.  This would be a great class read and a thoughtful gift.

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The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

“Once upon a time—for that is how all stories should begin—there was a boy who lost his mother,” opens this intriguing book, The Book of Lost Things, by John Connolly.  It is an interesting opening sentence especially due to how much it reveals about the book.  David, the protagonist of the book, is a pre-teen who is the “boy who lost his mother.”  He is a quiet kid who loves his mother and the stories they read together.  When he loses her and his family life is dramatically changed, it is to stories that David looks for comfort.

Stories are at the heart of this book; more specifically, as the first four words indicate, fairy tales are at its center.  David, who is prone to seizures and exhibits obsessive-compulsive behavior, finds that he can hear books whispering to each other and speaking to him.  As the story progresses, he literally steps from his World War II home in the English county-side into a world of fairytales.  However, these are not the brightly-colored fairytales you plaster cheerful pictures of on the walls of your baby’s nursery; these are the tales from the dark woods behind your grandmother’s house that you were afraid to enter. 

As in most fairytales, David has to undergo a journey and learn a few things about his self and his place in his now altered family picture.  David is confronted by real dangers and faces decisions that could mean life or death not only in the world he finds himself in, but also in the world he left behind.  This book should be considered a fairytale for adults.  It isn’t a perfect book, or even a great book, but if you delight in story itself and are looking for something a bit unexpected, then this book is a very good read.  

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