Review Blog

Sep 12 2013

East of the sun, west of the moon by Jackie Morris

cover image

Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2013. ISBN 9781847802941.
(Age: 11+) Warmly recommended. Fairy tale retelling, Fantasy, Princes, Freedom. With the fairy tale of Beauty and the beast hovering in the background, this beautifully told story is more than a retelling, as the author adds layers of setting and characterisation, plot and motive to the original tale.
A large white bear asks the girl to go with him. There is no question that she will go, she has always known it, but her mother is distraught. She loves being with the bear, is amazed at the palace where he lives, and what he does for her, to the point of giving her a treasured photo of her family, lost when they fled their country.
But each night she is aware that someone creeps into her bed, lying beside her leaving in the morning. She longs to see who it is but the matches will not strike. When she misses her family, the bear takes her home for a month and a day, but warns her not to be alone with her mother.
On returning, mother has given her new matches and so one night she strikes one, enabling her to see the person who lies in her bed. His shocking story is revealed, and by striking the match she has destined him to marry the ogre's daughter, never to return.
She then sets out to search for him, to right the wrong she has made and in her search finds true love.
The retelling of the story is languid and poetic, descriptions are matched by the mythical water colour illustrations as they drape across the pages, adding to the pleasure girls will have on reading this tale.
The small size is appealing and handy to hold, adding to the pleasure of the read.
Fran Knight

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