Snow White Meets Sleeping Beauty – and kicks ass

The Sleeper and the SpindleThe Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was very excited to see this book arrive in my library. Anything new from Neil Gaiman is always cause for celebration, but THIS is fabulous. Chris Riddell’s illustrations are exquisite and totally support his appointment as the new Children’s Laureate. The detail is wonderful, with just enough touches of gold to make it perfect.
So, the story. Snow White, on the eve of her wedding to her Prince, decides to take three of the dwarfs on a quest to rescue the neighbouring kingdom – which is suffering a sleep plague. She dons her knightly apparel and rides off, waving goodbye to her crying fiance.
This is a Snow White with no fear. She does not fear a sleep curse because she has already survived one. She is strong, capable and confident – quite the opposite of the usual fair tale princess, but then this is no ordinary fairy tale. After many days of journeying, Snow White reaches the palace of the sleeping princess. She slices through thorny bushes, hung with the skeletal remains of the princes and nobles who have trodden the path before her. She reaches the chamber of the princess, where she sees a gloriously beautiful blond young woman asleep and a gnarled old woman guarding her. And then there is a twist, and another, and another. As usual, no spoilers, but I can tell you I was able to write a great essay about it all for my Uni course! Feminist ideology is definitely in play here. This is a story about women finding their places in the world, and asserting their right to determine their own path. A story about the old guard versus the new guard – with amazing illustrations.
Recommended for anyone 12 and up. Thank you Neil Gaiman.

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