Monday, December 1, 2008

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George (Bloomsbury 2008)

Lynn: One of the great pleasures of snowy days is nestling in with a wonderful book. Here is one that is picture perfect for wintry days. The baby born to a bitter and disappointed mother doesn't even have a name. Called Lass by her family, the little girl grows up quiet and self-sufficient with a secret talent that enables her to communicate with animals. During one especially hungry winter, a huge polar bear arrives at the house and offers wealth to the family in exchange for Lass spending a year and a day with him in his castle. Lass does her best to curb her curiosity and endure the year. But what girl can resist trying to solve the mystery of the beautiful young man who slips into her bed each night? George blends an enchanting retelling of a Norwegian tale with exciting new elements, creating a completely satisfying read. I especially loved the trolls! So grab a quilt, make a cup of cocoa and enjoy!
Cindy: 398.2 is this storyteller's favorite section of the library. I also love fictional folktale retellings. Robin McKinley's Beauty was the first to really capture my heart by fully fleshing out a familiar tale into something very new. George's retelling of "East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon" is sure to please fans of Edith Pattou's East that looks at the same tale. Lass's ability to talk to animals makes her relationship with her pet wolf very entertaining, and it's a magical element that is also important to the plot. Three cheers for a book in which the beloved "dog" doesn't die! This story enchanted me the whole way, but I have to admit that I prefer the Beauty and the Beast storyline to East of the Sun. I mean, doesn't it creep you out a little that the girl is forced to sleep next to a man she doesn't know for a year? Sure, he is a gentleman, but I prefer Beauty's more distanced contact with her beast, thank you very much. That said, I can see how both girls fall in love with the gentle beasts they are imprisoned with. And Lynn's right, the trolls are fabulous--so too the salamander chefs, the faun, and other fey creatures. If I weren't in danger of being imprisoned myself by towering stacks of unread books, I'd be tempted to curl up with this one again.