Sleeping Beauty Retelling Where The Princess Wakes Up In Modern Times

I decided to read the other fairy tale retelling from Alex Flinn, A Kiss In Time.  This time she takes on Sleeping Beauty.  Jack is bored with his trip to Europe.  He is sure his parents just sent him to get him out of the way.  He and his friend, Travis, decide to ditch the tour and do some sightseeing on their own.  They come across a thick wood that hides an old fashioned kingdom.  All the people are asleep.  When they come across Talia, Jack finds her so beautiful he gives her a kiss.  When she and the entire kingdom awake, they are in for a bunch of trouble.  Jack is thrown in the dungeon.  Talia helps him escape as long as he takes her with him.  So Jack takes her home to Miami.  Talia hopes that he will be her true love.  All the while the evil witch is stalking her.

It is fun to watch Talia marvel at the modern world.  Jack develops from a party boy to a pretty good guy.  Flinn twists how modern love fits into the fairy tale.  She does a good job showing how love is more complicated than black and white.  Jack and Talia’s feeling for each other are not just about looks.  I didn’t like this one as much as Cloaked.  The characters were not as rich and colorful, but it was still fun to read.

Ideas for discussing with teens:

Talk about how a princess would survive in modern times.

Talk about facing your dragon.  What is the thing that scares or intimidates you the most?

Talk about Jack’s relationship with his parents.  What about Talia’s relationship.  How protective is too protective?

Compare this book with the Sleeping Beauty story you remember.

Talk about falling in love.  What appeals to them, besides looks?

What kind of modern conveniences can they live without?  What can’t they live without?

Talk about body image from the past vs. now.  Why would the modeling agency send her away?  What does that say about us now?

A Brilliant South Beach Fairy Tale

I adore fairy tale retellings and anything to do with South Florida.  So Alex Flinn’s Cloaked was a real winner for me.  She had all the quirky South Beach and Keys characters that would do Carl Hiaasen proud.  Flinn draws on several fairy tales, The Frog Prince, The Elves and the Shoemaker and the lesser known, The Six Swans and The Golden Bird.

Johnny is a cobbler.  He fixes shoes of the rich and famous at a famous hotel in Miami.  There isn’t money for college, so Johnny knows he will be doing this job for the rest of his life.  He has a secret desire to design shoes and have a celebrity wear them.  So when Victoriana, a party girl princess from Europe stays at the hotel, he finds his chance.  But Victoriana has another task for him, help her find her brother who has been turned into a frog by a witch.  If he succeeds, he gets to marry the princess.  Great deal, right?  His journey takes him to talking animals that are really transformed humans, a magic cloak that transports him anywhere and a scary biker bar.  At the same time Johnny is dealing with his relationship with Meg, the girl who’s family owns the coffee shop next to the shoe repair shop.  Meg has some magical secrets of her own.

I love how Flinn wove the story of the hotel swans and their role in the magical journey.  This storyline was one of my favorites.  I love South Florida and reading about her description of South Beach and the Keys makes me feel at home again. (I lived there for a couple of years.)  When she describes the Underwater Hotel off Key Largo, I had to rush to the internet and look it up.  It is very cool!  It would be very easy for Johnny to fall in love with Victoriana.  I’m glad Flinn took a different approach.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss why Johnny may find Meg more appealing than Victoriana and the other way around.

Read aloud some of the fairy tale quotes at the beginning of the chapters and discuss.

Talk about the importance of shoes in fashion and in culture.

Why do we want things celebrities wear?

What did you think would happen when the fox asked Johnny to kill him?  What would you have done?

Discuss the names of the six swans and how they relate to Key West.


Fantastic New Angel Fantasy!

This book had rave reviews on Good Reads so I was very hopeful about this one. This is a brilliant first book for Cynthia Hand. Unearthly is the first of a trilogy. Clara and her brother, Jeffrey, are angel-bloods. They have wings, can heal quickly and project light. Her mother is half angel and over 100 years old. Clara just started to have visions of her purpose. A purpose is the angel’s mission here on earth. Her visions involve a forest fire and a handsome boy. Her family moves to Wyoming so Clara can fulfill her purpose. She must die her hair a horrible color to cover her “glory” which is the light that she radiates. There she meets Christian Prescott, the boy in her visions. She is drawn to him, but not sure if because she is just attracted to him or if it is because of the visions. Tucker is always on the fringe, teasing her and distracting her. As her vision becomes more detailed, her powers grow and she is not sure who she is supposed to save.

Cynthia Hand does a great job building the characters and the setting. We get to explore Wyoming’s beautiful ruggedness throughout the story. Teen girls who love Twilight will love how the romance builds between Tucker and Clara. They will also enjoy the romantic tension between Clara and Christian. Hand has some religious elements, however faint, that make this read more multidimensional. I feel very strongly that you have to have some religion in angel fantasy or the story falls flat. I also enjoyed Angela as a character. She is also an angel-blood with some amazing powers. She befriends Clara and the two of them try to unravel some mysteries of angel lore.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Did you think Clara should end up with Christian?

What makes Christian appealing? What makes Tucker appealing? Who would you choose?

If appropriate – talk about how glory connects the angel-bloods to God? Why do you think they were not very religious in a traditional sense?

Clara was the new girl, people made fun of her hair and started rumors about her. Why do you think people do that?

Why was it so easy for her brother Jeffrey to transition to a new school?

Talk about how Clara and Angela’s upbringing was different?

Talk about the Dark Wings and how Clara could feel their sorrow.

What does purpose mean to you? How do you know what yours is?

What do you think is happening to Clara’s mom?

Why do you think Jeffrey’s wings turn dark?

Did you expect Christian to be who he was?

Tucker calls her Carrots. Talk about nicknames and why people have them.