Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fairy Tale Fantastic

Alex Flinn has done it again.  In fact I did a brief booktalk about Cloaked (Harper Teen, February 8, 2011) to a class of eighth grade students prior to completing my review.  Later when I went to grab it to continue writing it had already been checked out.

As she did in Beastly she brings her original contemporary twist to the fairy tale genre.  But this time rather than focusing on one tale she incorporates bits and pieces from The Elves and the Shoemaker, The Frog Prince, The Six Swans, The Golden Bird, The Valiant Tailor, The Salad and The Fisherman and his Wife.  At times she will use quotes from these stories to begin a chapter.

Readers are introduced to John (Johnny) who works with his Mom running a shoe repair shop in an upper class hotel on South Beach.  John's dream is to design his own line of ultra-fashionable, expensive shoes; hardly your typical teen but characterizations and dialogue throughout the book will hook readers nonetheless.   That will be a hard dream to fulfill as he and his Mom can hardly make ends meet and are in danger of losing the shop.  Next door his best friend and sometimes only friend, Meg, helps her family out with a coffee and pastry shop.  Little do they know that both their lives are about to change when the jet-setting Princess Victoriana from Aloria selects to stay at the hotel. 

It seems that Victoriana's brother has been turned into a frog by a wicked witch in Zalkenbourg.  The spell can only be broken by a kiss from someone with love in their heart.  Currently the main problem is that the frog is missing.  Johnny, against his better judgment, I mean, who believes in magic?, agrees to help the Princess.

She is offering him money in an amount that will cure all the financial worries of him and his mother; ten thousand to begin just for his secrecy.  She also extends an invitation of marriage to her if he succeeds.  Did I mention that her beauty is indescribable?

To further seal the bargain he is given a cloak that will take him anywhere he wishes as well as ear plugs that will enable him to hear animals that were once human talk. Along the way he is assisted by a rat, a fox named Todd and swans that make their home in the hotel.  Meg whose "charming" talents are revealed joins the hunt where they battle wits with the witch and her son not to mention two giants in a Key West natural preserve and campground.

Flinn delivers non-stop action brimming with adventure, romance and mayhem in what can only be called a winner of magical proportions.

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