Friday 12 August 2016

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 12th August 2016 - "Sleeping Beauty - a Mid Century Fairy Tale" by Lynn Roberts-Maloney and David Roberts (Pavilion Children's Books)

This week's first Book of the Week features an artist who is a regular BOTW mainstay, and his hugely talented sister...
Rebooting fairy tales is something that, in our opinion, is a tricky balancing act. You want to retain enough of the original story, sometimes you want to remove some of the darker elements for a child audience, and sometimes you really just want to cut through the waffle and distil the essential story and message down into something wonderful and unique.

That third approach is the approach that Lynn Roberts-Maloney and David Roberts have taken so successfully in the past, with their brilliant reinventions of classic fairy tales. Choosing particular periods in 20th Century history to give their tales a distinctly different look and feel, it is now the turn of "Sleeping Beauty" and this is probably our favourite reboot to date.

"Sleeping Beauty - A Mid Century Fairy Tale" takes place in the 1950s, during that time when the world dreamed of an amazing future with robots, flying cars and automated dream homes. Annabel dreams of these things and is obsessed with science fiction (sounds like a certain little girl who helps write this blog, actually!) Her walls are covered with posters of robots and science fiction films, and she often daydreams about living beyond her years and seeing the future unfold.

Annabel's back story is dark and tinged with sadness. On the day of her birth, her guardian aunts invited 12 wise witches to wish her well, but a 13th witch, an evil witch at that, placed a curse on Annabel at birth, vowing that she would prick her finger on a needle and wouldn't survive past her 16th birthday.

The two aunts, witches themselves, manage to undo part of the curse and protect their ward. As she grows up blissfully unaware of the dark secret surrounding her, her 16th birthday approaches and a mysterious visitor leaves a present on her doorstep. A present that sees Annabel prick her finger on a record player needle, falling asleep for 1000 years.

Both aunts vow to protect her. One, as a huge thorny rose bush that swiftly surrounds their house protecting Annabel from the world outside. One as an ever-present light, guarding her as she sleeps.

In the distant future lives another girl, Zoe, who learns of the legend of the strange rose bush that grows amidst the futuristic building, and the story of the young girl who sleeps eternally within. Can Zoe release the spell once and for all?

If there's one era of 20th Century history we love, it's that golden future imagined in the USA in the 1950s, blissfully brought to life here in exquisite detail at David Roberts' talented hands. We instantly fell completely in love with this book, both a brilliantly original version of the story and a visual treat too.

Our minds are now racing, wondering what Lynn and David will come up with next. Is there room for a 90s-based version of "The Snow Queen" maybe? Or perhaps an 80s version of "The Girl in the Red Shoes"?

We can't wait to find out!

Charlotte's best bit: The amazing future library where Zoe discovers the legend of the sleeping girl.

Daddy's favourite bit: You can't do this justice in a single read. All the exquisite details from reading the book again, and again (and again) and all the brilliant observations and versions of 50s culture and sci fi that are worked into this lovingly are just SO GOOD! Brilliant work once again Lynn and David!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Pavilion Children's Books)

"Sleeping Beauty - A Mid Century Fairy Tale" 

Written by Lynn Roberts-Maloney 

Illustrated by David Roberts

Published by Pavilion Children's Books

Publication Date: 11th August 2016