Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Girl and the Seven Thieves by Olivia Snowe, Michelle Lamoreaux (Illustrations)

It took me 40 minutes to read this book. The protagonist is 16 years old and it is written for readers learning English as a second language. The Fountas & Pinnell reading level is an "N" which makes it good for middle school and up with a high interest level. Our school is comprised of students where English is not their native language and there are not a ton of books at this lower level for older readers. This book fills a much needed void and the author does a fairly good job sticking with the classic fairy tale and putting her own twist on it.

Eira lives is from New York with her stepmom and dad. When her stepmom tells her to run an errand for her with Hunter, the chauffeur she grew up with, Eira doesn't think anything of it. When Hunter takes her out of his way to a bad part of town she realizes that something is wrong. He reveals that he is supposed to kill her and tells her to disappear. She flees into the streets but does not feel safe when a crowd of seven men start to follow her. As she wonders whether to run or not, she discovers their intentions are not sinister and Eira makes friends with the group hiding out with them. When her stepmom tracks her down it is up to the seven men to save her.

The illustrations have a Manga feel to them that will appeal to the Asian students at my school. Also, Eira and her boyfriend look somewhat Asian. Students will identify with the straight black hair and eye-shapes. The evil stepmom looks Caucasian and the seven dwarves or thieves look like a mixture of different cultures. The pictures have a diverse look that will appeal to a global audience. I am always on the lookout for illustrations that reflect the mixed heritage of my students. They are not easy to find and I wish there were more out there to choose from for our library.

There is very little room for character development in such a short book, but the author manages to show Eira as a strong female character that is also trusting and slightly naive. The abundance of dwarves works against the development in some ways because there are so many it takes away from any of them getting fleshed out. The author is stuck with having seven in order to parallel the classic. The plot follows Snow White's story giving the reader some background knowledge because so many countries have their own version of this particular fairy tale. I have found that working in Asia, many of the Western folktales are not necessarily a part of their culture, but this one is that is and therefore readers will be able to tackle the words and plot with ease. There is a little bit of romance and if you are looking for a complement to this "Twice Told" series but at an easier reading level, I recommend Stone Arch publishing's "Faerieground" series by Beth Bracken (F & P level: K).

4 Smileys

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