Saturday, January 14, 2012

Librarian's Pick of the Week: Snow in Summer

Title: Snow in Summer
Author: Jerry Spinelli
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Published: 2011
Age: 9+

Synopsis: With her black hair, red lips, and lily-white skin, Summer is as beautiful as her father's garden. And her life in the mountains of West Virginia seems like a fairy tale; her parents sing and dance with her, Cousin Nancy dotes on her, and she is about to get a new baby brother. But when the baby dies soon after he's born, taking Summer's mama with him, Summer's fairy-tale life turns grim. Things get even worse when her father marries a woman who brings poisons and magical mirrors into Summer's world. Stepmama puts up a pretty face, but Summer suspects she's up to no good--and is afraid she's powerless to stop her. This Snow White tale filled with magic and intrigue during the early twentieth century in Appalachia will be hard to forget.

Review: Drawing from her eponymous short story of 2000, Yolen offers a gripping 20th-century adaptation of Snow White, starring Snow in Summer, a girl growing up in West Virginia in the 1940s. Summer's beloved Papa, bereft over the death of his wife and son, is seduced by a beautiful but wicked witch, who marries him and takes over the household, using her wiles to render Papa and the rest of the town helpless while she abuses her stepdaughter. Only widowed Cousin Nancy resists the witch and offers aid to Summer via some down-home magic. "Your caul, child.... I retrieved it right after you were born. Salted it down, let it dry over the rim of a bowl. I've kept it for you all this time." Based on the traditional Snow White-complete with a magic mirror and seven dwarfs (more or less), along with some Appalachian folklore, post-Depression era culture, and snake-handling evangelicals-this story is beautifully written and deliciously scary, with just enough differences from familiar versions to keep readers guessing. - Publisher's Weekly

If you're intrigued, don't forget to check our library's catalog for this book!


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