By Cynthia Ayala
At Ever After High, fairy tales are real, based on students’ decisions to sign the fabled Storybook of Legends and take on the roles of their ancestors, to be the next generation of Snow Whites, Prince Charmings and Evil Queens. They don’t have a choice, just a destiny that will determine their lives, forever. But Raven Queen doesn’t want to be the next Evil Queen, she doesn’t want to sign the Storybook of Legends. But there is cost that could mean both the end of her story and her life.
Published on October 8, 2013 by Little, Brown and Company, The Storybook of Legends by Shannon Hale is a fun spin on fairy tales and how they evolve in this middle grade series.
Within this fun creative take about identity and finding yourself and accepting yourself. It’s a good story to tell children, one that is also well written with a lot of humor in the language and the character dynamics with very young notable characters.
As a middle grade book the story has to connect to young and old readers alike and should be a story that parent’s feel is a comfortable story to tell children, a tale that should connect and comfort a younger generation. Now, while the tale is for children the names, well, they are a little on the cheesy side. The brightside of that is that the fact that while the names such as Apple White, Mackenzie Hatter, and Raven Queen are very on the nose and cheesy, they are also quite clever. Each name symbolizes who these characters are destined to be while also hinting at their own individual personalities. This is made easier by the wonderful description Hale gives all the characters. Definitely plenty of telling rather than showing where that is concerned but the language and style of the writing still gives the readers something to see. The detail in both the outward descriptions of the characters as well as their narratives bring the characters to life, that is what makes this such a fun for both adults and children. All one has to do is read of Mackenzie Hatter who steals the show with her fun quirky attitude. Yes, all the characters have something that makes them fun to read about, but Mackenzie Hatter, she shines on every single page with her brilliant narrative.
However, that being said, what really makes this novel stand out is the concept woven between the layers of the fairy tales. These children are grown and conditioned to be exactly like their parents and live out the fairy tales as they have always been, they have no choice in who they want to be. This novel highlights the importance of choice, the importance about kids finding their own way in life and their own identities via guidance and personal choice, freewill. It is so important for children to read about other young adults standing up for who they want to be and what they want in life. A concept such as that is a powerful one and the way that Hale writes it makes the reader understand how important choice is in defining ones identity, whether they are good or bad.
The imagination that went into this novel is just so much fun to read about and the concept of the story is easy to understand, easy to grasp while remaining powerful within the layers of the fairy tale. (★★★★☆ |B+)