Twice Upon a Time: Sleeping Beauty, The One Who Took the Really Long Nap by Wendy Mass, paperback novel, 172 pages, published by Scholastic Inc. in 2006.
Most people know the old fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, who is cursed by an evil fairy to and sleeps for 100 years. Sleeping Beauty, The One Who Took the Really Long Nap is a new version of this favourite tale, told alternately from both the side of the princess and the side of the prince.
Princess Rose is endowed with many gifts from her fairy godmothers as a newborn, but the oldest and meanest fairy in the land curses her instead to prick her finger on a spindle and die. The last of fairy godmothers can lessen the curse but not lift it, so when Princess Rose pricks her finger she falls into a deep and prolonged sleep, one which will last 100 years.
The Prince has worries, not least of which is his mother who is part ogre, and needs to feed on fresh meat twice a month. He grows up alone, with a page his only friend, but when he leaves, the Prince is on his own. He spends many hours and days wandering the forest near his castle, and he stumbles across an old castle that is completely overgrown with trees and vines. He attempts to gain entrance to this castle, but the vines won’t yield. The prince is determined to discover the secrets of this old castle.
An old tale retold and refreshed, and a very enjoyable one at that. The basic skeleton of the original story is retained, with the details expanded and tweaked to create a new version that is fun and engaging. Telling the stories of both the Princess and the Prince was a unique way to add dimension, and is done very well. The reader is introduced to the characters not just of the Princess as a beautiful girl waiting and her Prince Charming who dashes in and rescues her gallantly. The characters have depth, and flaws and realism, and I could conjure them in my mind throughout their adventure. There were also moments of humour, and I found it to be an entertaining read.
This story is most suited to middle and upper primary school children, but I think my second grader would enjoy it a lot too. Explanations of some things like pages, squires and spindles might be required for younger children, but that just adds to the experience of reading with your child.
This is the second book by Wendy Mass that I have enjoyed this year, and I will be looking for more by her in the future.