The Sleeper and the Spindle

illus. by Chris Riddell. 64p. ebook available. HarperCollins/Harper. Sept. 2015. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780062398246.
RedReviewStarGr 7 Up—Snow White meets Sleeping Beauty in this fairytale mash-up where things are not what they seem. When three dwarfs learn of a sleeping plague spreading throughout the land, they alert their queen. The queen, already feeling that marriage means the end of her ability to make choices in her life, gladly postpones her wedding, grabs her sword, and sets off with the dwarfs to get to the bottom of the magical curse. On their way, they encounter throngs of cobweb-covered sleepers. To their surprise, the slumbering masses talk in their sleep and eventually begin to lumber after them. The team forges ahead to the castle, where they find the sleeping princess and an old woman. The queen's kiss, shown in a sumptuous spread, wakes the princess. The quest turns out to be just what the queen needs to be reminded of the choices she has. Riddell's spectacularly intricate ink drawings, gilded with gold, bring Gaiman's inventive story to life. Each page is packed with marvelous details—vines claustrophobically twist everywhere and expressions convey far more emotion than the words let on. Gaiman's narrative about strength, sacrifice, choice, and identity is no simple retelling; he sends readers down one path then deliciously sends the story veering off in an unexpected direction. The only downside—the tale ends far too soon.
VERDICT This highly recommended visually stunning twist on two classic fairy tales will be well received by fans of graphic novels and fantasy stories.

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