Until recently, my only experience with the author Gail Carson Levine was having seen the movie version of her book “Ella Enchanted.” I love this movie, and I thought it was mostly because I really like Anne Hathaway.
However, at a recent visit to “The Rexburg Readers” book group, I was drawn in by their discussion of Levine’s books. The club’s founder, Leslie Hansen, gave me a copy of “Fairest,” and I was excited to delve into the land of ogres, princesses ,and evil queens. “Fairest” is a junior fiction book, which makes it great for all ages.
Aza is a teenage girl who is very self-conscious. She is not a pretty girl. In fact, she considers herself to be quite unattractive. But her voice is beyond compare. She soon discovers her talent for throwing her voice and mimicking other voices and sounds. She ends up befriending a prince, who loves her for who she is; becoming a lady-in-waiting for a selfish queen who only wants to use her; and basically getting into a lot of trouble in the process.
The message is kind of “hit you over the head”—that you should be happy with who you are. But the story was told so well, with wit and fun, that it did not bother me that I was being preached to. I am definitely going to make my daughter read this book. Apparently she read another book by Levine last year and loved it, “The Two Princesses of Bamarre.” I told her I would read that book if she would take a look at “Fairest.” She agreed.
Another fairy tale that I am really excited to read is called “Dragon Slippers,” by Jessica Day George. This is a story about girl power. I am so happy that a lot of these books put girls in the position to be heroines. It gives me hope that my daughter will grow up to be empowered and feel like she can do anything.
These books really encourage girls to be who they are. They encourage girls to use the gifts they have been given to “save the day,” so to speak. Many of these girls are described as awkward and not particularly pretty, which is a great way to emphasize that physical characteristics are not as important as other aspects of your personality.
I was very awkward as a preteen, with huge braces on my huge teeth, and unruly, curly hair that would never get as big as the cool girls in my school. I also wasn’t skinny and willowy like the ideal girls were. I look at my preteen daughter and want her to have the confidence that I didn’t have, and I am sure that these books will show her that it is okay to be who she is.
As a side note, Jessica Day George, the author of “Dragon Slippers,” is going to be at the library tonight! Thursday November 17th at 7:00 p.m., she will be at the library to discuss her work and her latest book. She is the author of a number of novels for young adults, including “Princess of the Midnight Ball” and “Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow.” She is from right here in Rexburg!
If you haven't read a fairy tale in a while, it is time to dig in. Fairy tales are all the rage right now. With the television shows “Once Upon a Time” and “Grimm,” as well as two movies about Little Red Riding Hood coming out soon, it is time for us to return to our childhood roots. Find out who has been eating the porridge, what kinds of gifts fairies give for weddings, and how to become that princess or prince you have always wanted to be!