Thursday, February 20, 2014

Shelf Life [kids]

Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella by Jan Brett, 32 pages.
Poor Chicken Cinders! Nagged and picked upon by the other hens (especially Pecky, Bossy and the old biddy, Largessa) her days were spent doing endless chores in the henhouse. When an invitation to Prince Cockerel’s ball arrived, Cinders was far too busy to think of going.
The moment the other hens left, however, a silkie hen flew in. “I’m here to get you ready for the ball!” she promised. She brushed Cinders with her magic wand and the little hen suddenly found herself wearing an exquisite silver dress and a pair of crystal slippers.
Whisked to the ball in a splendid carriage, Cinders entranced the prince, who danced only with her. When midnight fell, she fled the palace, leaving behind one of the small crystal slippers.
The conclusion to this adaptation of the traditional Cinderella story is predictable … the prince found the slipper and searched for his mysterious heartthrob far and wide until he found her.
It is the stunning and unbelievably detailed art of illustrator/author Jan Brett which brings a special magic to this enchanting picture book. An exquisite moonlit winter wonderland setting is depicted, complete with authentic details of Russian architecture - inspired by the author/illustrator’s trip to Russia. Two gatefold pages aptly depict the magnificence of the palace ballroom, with hens and cockerels dressed in their finest attire.

** Recommended for ages 3 to 7 years.

Frogspell by C.J.Busby, 158 pages.
Max hadn’t meant to turn his sister, Olivia, into a purple frog with red spots.  Nor had Olivia intended to turn Max into a red frog with purple spots.  Nevertheless, two spotted frogs now sat in the exact spot where two children had stood a moment before.
As a young squire in King Arthur’s court, Max is actually much more interested in becoming a wizard than a knight. Thus he is delighted by his accidental discovery of a powerful frog spell.  Now he has an excellent chance of winning the prestigious Novices’ Spell-Making Competition! 
However, Max’s plans quickly change when the siblings (who, for lack of a counter spell, are still frogs) are recruited to help the Wizard Merlin, who must outsmart an immensely powerful, malicious sorceress, Lady Morgana.
Fortunately, all ends well.  King Arthur’s court and kingdom are saved from Lady Morgana’s evil plans.  A counter frog spell is discovered; Max and Olivia are at last released from their froggy forms, and Max’s father is persuaded that his son would probably be a better magician than knight.
This thoroughly entertaining story is the first title in a new series set in the time of King Arthur, featuring the irrepressible Max Pendragon and his sister, Olivia.

** Recommended for ages 8 to 11 years. 

This review appeared in the Stratford Gazette on February 20, 2014. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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