I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer and The Sunday Salon (TSS) hosted by Deb Nance of Readerbuzz where participants recap our week, talk about what we are reading, share any new books that have come our way, and whatever else we want to talk about. I am also linking It's Monday! What Are you Reading? hosted by Kathryn of Book Date and a children's/middle grade version hosted by Jen Vincent, Teach Mentor Texts, and Kellee of Unleashing Readers where readers talk about what they have been, are and will be reading.
Last year, Mouse and I read the Spill the Beans, the thirteenth book in the Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski, which she loved and I felt so-so about. But if it gets her excited about reading then I am all in! Mouse was eager to read more in the series and so for Christmas, I got her the first three books, which we recently read together.
The series begins with Fairest of All, in which 10-year-old Abby and her brother, who is 7, are adjusting to life in their new town. Abby was none too happy about the move and worries about fitting in at her new school. One night, Abby follows her brother down into the basement to see what has got him all excited: a mirror that seems to be more than a mirror. Three knocks and they find themselves swept into an entirely different world--and so their adventures begin.
One of the things I like about this series is how the fairytales are not based on the Disney versions, as Abby explains to Jonah (and therefore the reader) in each instance. Abby's grandmother used to read Abby and Jonah fairytales frequently when they lived closer to her, and Abby remembers her fairytales very well. This is not a series in which the reader necessarily needs to know the original fairytales, and I appreciate that each is (somewhat) addressed in the books. The author even mentions some of the more shocking parts (toes and tongues cut out--"Gross!" as Jonah would say), but in an age appropriate way. Keep in mind though that even as the fairytales they find themselves in may appear to follow a similar story line at first as the original or a similar version, the actual characters, world building and overall story are quite different.
This series is full of humor and I like the overall theme of girl empowerment that I have encountered so far. The distressed damsels turn the tables in their tales, and the outcome is never quite what you'd expect. Mouse loves that about these books too. Each book also contains a lesson for Abby, usually something she is struggling with in her real life that she comes to realize the solution to as she works out how to fix the fairytales she and Jonah land in. We laughed a lot as we read these three books and cheered when the fairytale characters get their happy ending--even if not the original ending expected.
In the first book in the series, Fairest of All (Scholastic, 2013), the siblings are dropped into the middle of a forest. They come upon a cottage in which an old woman is trying to entice a young woman to open her door and enjoy an apple. Jonah, ever hungry, would love an apple and immediately inserts himself in their conversation. It does not take long for Abby to figure out that this old woman is not who she appears to be and the young woman at the door is no other than Snow White. No apple is eaten that day. No one is poisoned. And therein lies the problem. They broke the story and now have to fix it. The twelve dwarves all have very different names than you would expect. And they are not all men. The prince ends up imprisoned in the dungeon, there are crocodiles in the moat, and the magic mirror is Jonah and Abby's only way to return home. Oh! And there's a fairy named Rosemary that lives in Abby and Jonah's mirror. She hasn't made an appearance yet, but there is time for that in a future book, I am sure. In this book, Abby is worried about getting Snow's story back on track, but by the end realizes that change is not always a bad thing. Maybe the move to the new town is a good thing. Change can be good, after all.
In the second book of the series, If the Shoe Fits (Scholastic, 2013), Abby and Jonah again find themselves traveling through the mirror into yet another fairytale, this time Cinderella. They are determined not to interfere with the story this time, only of course things do not go as planned. Soon, Cinderella's story is derailed. And it seems to get worse and worse the more Abby and Jonah try to get it back on track. They call on the Fairy Godmother to help, only she isn't quite so willing. Cinderella has to prove she is no damsel in distress, that she can take care of herself, which turns out the be the message Abby needs to take to heart too--and not rely on her parents for everything now that she's older. In this book, one of the evil stepsisters proves not be be so evil, mice really can run up clocks, and hold on tight to that magic wand or it might end up in the wrong hands.
Sink or Swim (Scholastic, 2013) is the third novel in the Whatever After series, and, you guessed it, is the Little Mermaid story. Like with the other fairytales, this one is not based on the Disney version where the Little Mermaid and the prince live happily ever after. No, this is the version in which the Little Mermaid will not only lose her voice and the prince, but also her life. Abby cannot let that happen. So instead of trying to keep the story from going bad, Abby and her brother set out to actually change it. On purpose. What was fun about this particular book is that it was very modern in its presentation. Surfing seems to be the favorite pastime. The king calls everyone, "Dude". And everyone has an obsession with mustard (to be fair, Jonah's obsessed with ketchup). The prince in this one is rather superficial and both Mouse and I wondered what Princess Lana, the Little Mermaid, sees in him. Despite Abby's best efforts, the wedding doesn't quite go as planned, and she must face the Sea Witch herself--with Jonah, of course. This was perhaps my and Mouse's favorite of the three. It was the funniest and quite creative in terms of story line. The overall lesson in this one was a bit more complex than the first two: knowing when to accept things the way they are and when to take a risk and speak up for what you want.
I asked Mouse what her favorite parts of all three books were in hopes of sharing them with you here. Unfortunately for you, they each include a major spoiler. I will at least say that for Sink and Swim, it involved the King and Sea Witch's interaction toward the end. As for the other two, let's just say she liked how Cinderella and Snow White's stories ended.
Now Reading: Mouse is reading Trouble at Trident Academy (Mermaid Tales #1) by Debbie Dadey on her own.
What I Am Reading: I finished reading Michelle Obama's Becoming early in the week and loved it. What a humble and amazing woman. I am now reading The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. So far it is living up to the hype and my expectations.
I have not quite decided what to read next. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo perhaps (so I can be ready for the release of the Netflix series). Although, I am in the mood for a historical novel. Maybe I will do that for next month's TBR Poll and make you choose for me! Hmmm.
What I Am Watching: My family and I watched the latest WandaVision episode. As anxious as I am to see how everything wraps up in the next episode, I am also sad it's coming to an end. We are also keeping up with our Buffy and Angel watching. We watch an episode almost every night, depending on what we have going on.
Off the Blog: It was a week. A very crazy-busy-thank-goodness-its-over kind of week. I was so relieved when I left the office Friday evening. I am behind on blog visits and responding to comments--thank you for your patience and understanding.
The trimester is officially over for my daughter and the new one begins next week. We got word from the school district that they will be starting elementary school students in the hybrid program in the classroom one day a week beginning March 9th, raising it to two days a week a couple weeks after that if all goes well. Hopefully it will go well for those returning to the classroom. From talking to teacher friends and other parents, feelings are mixed. As I've mentioned before, my daughter is in the virtual program this school year, and so we will be watching from the sidelines. The COVID numbers are continuing to go down in my county and dare we hope we will be able to enter a slightly less restrictive tier soon?
Mouse made breakfast for all of us last Sunday as part of a Girl Scout project she is working on. Chocolate chip pancakes topped with whipped cream. My favorite!
I just received Mouse's March dance/rehearsal schedule for March. It's going to be a busy month for her. Which reminds me, I need to load the donation bags into the car and drive them over to the studio today. The booster club is doing a fundraiser, collecting clothes and some household items. I have about nine or ten full garbage bags waiting for an opportunity to be donated. My husband will be so happy to clear the space in our garage!
Enjoying the sunny day
This Past Week In Reading Mews:
- Weekly Mews: Poetry Corner Edition (#2)
- Bookish Mewsings: The Russian Cage by Charlaine Harris & The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
- Waiting to Read Wednesday: Surviving Savannah / An Unexpected Peril / The Rest of Us Just Live Here
- Where Is Your Bookmark? (Female Warriors / Ghostly Mystery / Connect Five: TBR Must Reads / BBHOP)
Tell me what you have been up to! What are you reading, listening to and watching? How was your week? Do you have anything planned for this week?
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