Tag Archives: Wendy Mass

Twice Upon a Time: Rapunzel, The One with All the Hair by Wendy Mass

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IMG_0140Twice Upon a Time: Rapunzel, The One with All the Hair by Wendy Mass, paperback novel, 205 pages, published by Scholastic Inc. in 2006.

Rapunzel is an ordinary girl turning twelve when a witch arrives at her home and whisks her away as payment for a deal made with Rapunzel’s parents before she was born. The witch locks Rapunzel in a tall tower in the middle of the forest. The room is bare, there is no door, and the only window is so far from the ground she would probably die in the fall, and Rapunzel is all alone.

Prince Benjamin is also trapped, not physically, but by the constraints of being heir to the throne and all the responsibility that comes with it. His father wants him to act more like a man and begin his king training, while his mother is somewhat over protective, and doesn’t even let him visit the nearby village. Benjamin’s cousin, Prince Elkin, comes to stay with them frequently, and he often tries to get Benjamin into trouble. The two of them set out on an adventure for a horde of treasure guarded by a troll, but they find something completely different. And in the process Prince Benjamin finds a tall and solitary tower in the forest.

This is another book in Wendy Mass’s Twice Upon a Time series, in which old fairytales are retold in a new and refreshing way. Following both the side of Rapunzel and that of Prince Benjamin, this version of the old tale is interesting and different. The characters are well written and likable, with faults and quirks, giving them a sense of realism. There were parts of this story that made me laugh too. I enjoyed this book very much.

I have given this book to my second grader to read, and though she is only at the start, she already likes it. Most suited to middle and upper primary school children to read independently, younger children may also enjoy having this story read to or with them. A wonderful twist on an old tale.

 

 

 

Twice Upon a Time: Sleeping Beauty, The One Who Took the Really Long Nap by Wendy Mass

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IMG_0142Twice 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.

 

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass

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IMG_858811 Birthdays by Wendy Mass, paperback novel, 267 pages, published by Scholastic Inc. in 2009.

Amanda and Leo were born on the same day in the same hospital and were to become best friends, and celebrate their birthdays together every year. That is until their tenth birthday when they have a falling out, and then don’t speak to each other for an entire year. Amanda is miserable on the day of her eleventh birthday, and she is glad when the day finally ends and she goes to sleep. But when she wakes up in the morning she discovers that her birthday is happening again, and she seems to be the only one that realises it. Why is her birthday repeating and how does she make it end?

I enjoyed this story, it reminded me of the movie Groundhog Day, which I have always loved. The possibility of getting a “do-over” could be enticing, with no consequences, you could do anything you’ve always wanted to, but never been game to. Though, it could also be depressing when nothing you do actually matters, as each day resets and no one else remembers your actions. I think that the emotions that Amanda displays in the book when she discovers her birthday is repeating, mirror how I think I would react in the same situation. The characters were well written and felt real. The storyline was interesting and engaging, and I hope my kids will like it too. This book is probably best for middle to upper primary school students, though I didn’t think it had themes that would preclude a younger child from enjoying the story.