Bound To Stay Bound

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School Library Journal - 05/01/2019 Gr 4–6—The well-known tales of "Sleeping Beauty" and "Jack and the Beanstalk" blend together in this ambitious retelling of a kingdom plagued by secrets and curses. In the kingdom of Wildwick, the queen gives birth to twin girls: Briar, born with a heavy brow, a drooping eyelid, and a crooked countenance, and Rose, fair-haired, blue-eyed, and graced with perfect "princess" looks. Ashamed of Briar's appearance, the king and queen agree to keep her birth a secret and declare Rose the heir to the throne. At the celebration of her birth, the familiar story of the fairies' blessings and the evil fairy's spindle curse plays out with one difference: Hilde, a midwife/nursemaid, practices her minor magical skills to switch the babies in the cradle but gets mixed up. The result is that Hilde doesn't know which baby the spindle curse landed on. Years pass, and Rose and Briar, who is presented as the orphaned child of a noble family, grow up together as best friends. Meanwhile, the kingdom is plagued by a giant, who demands money and food and destroys portions of the castle with every terrifying visit. The villagers are suffering and starving under the greedy king's giant tax, while the king keeps a secret stash of food and gold. Enter Jack, a village boy who befriends Briar and Rose on one of their adventures into the woods outside the castle. Horrified by the giant's destruction, the three friends, together with other village children, form a group dedicated to killing the giant. Despite an interesting premise and the irresistible mash-up of classic fairy tales, the narrative is marred by too much telling and not enough showing. Characters are never fully rendered, particularly Rose and Jack, making it hard to feel emotionally invested in the outcome. Many sections are unnecessary to the already overstuffed plot, which, along with the elevated vocabulary and tone, may frustrate younger readers. VERDICT While fairy tales are a consistent hit, this overlong and muddled one is a secondary purchase for most collections.—Kristy Pasquariello, Westwood Public Library, MA - Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.

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