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Shorter Musings: The Lighthouse Between the Worlds, Snow & Rose, Straw Into Gold, Watch Hollow

Here are some shorter musings on recently read MG fantasy novels.

The Lighthouse Between the Worlds by Melanie Crowder
Melanie Crowder is one of the most underrated MG/YA authors. She continuously writes excellent books, and she has such a range. This is an excellent example of what she is capable of. This book takes place in a multi-verse where the portal between the worlds is a lighthouse on the pacific coast. It is about imperialism, slavery, totalitarianism, and political rebellion. Those are important topics to tackle in a rather short MG novel, but Crowder handles it with finesse. The characters are well drawn and the action is exciting from start to finish.

Snow & Rose by Emily Winfield Martin
This is a beautiful retelling of a tale many children are not familiar with because Disney hasn't touched it yet. It is perfect for fairy tale lovers who are new to reading novels. The chapters are short. The illustrations are gorgeous. Both Snow and Rose are layered characters and very different. The world is steeped in the original tale while also having its own sense of place. It isn't very often that you find a book that feels so other worldly written for the younger age of the MG spectrum that does it all so well. Martin managed to pull all of that off.

Straw into Gold: Fairy Tales Respun by Hilary McKay
This is a collection of fairy tales, each with a twist of some sort. The twist range from the point of view of the storyteller, the point in time from which the story is told, and the circumstances surrounding the story. It's a decent collection, but mostly I was just bored. The stories were not engaging enough to keep my interest when or twisty enough to offer anything new. There were a couple of shining, profound moments, but those were too few and far between to count against how I had to force myself to pick up the book when it was time to read. Typically I'm able to say even if a MG book doesn't work for me how it might work for the intended audience. For once, I can't do that. I have no idea. I know many of the 5th-7th graders I work with are completely unfamiliar with the original version of fairy tales, so I don't know what they would get from this.

Watch Hollow by Gregory Funaro 
This is a fantastical mystery involving a spooky house, a magical clock, and inanimate animals that come to life. It is an entertaining read, but for me it didn't really stand out from the pack as far as MG fantasy goes. There is a dead mother and a confused, distant father. Nothing really makes it particularly memorable, but it is a good thing to give new novel readers who have yet to read much fantasy. 

Comments

I felt the same way about Watch Hollow, pretty much. Snow and Rose has been on my TBR since it was released...I'm not familiar with Melanie Crowder so I will have to check out this book.

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