Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Jane Yolen, Mike Cavallaro
First Second, 2010
Jane Yolen is known for her numerous collections of stories for children, and this her book, drawn by Mike Cavallaro, too, for middle and senior school age. Not to say that the story in the book is piercing like a foil but to enchant lovers of fairy tales it could well.
Aliera Carstairs is a loner. Her life is filled with only one passion, fencing. She differs from other students: she is not a jockett, nor a goth, nor a nerd, nor a prep, she is on her own. She is sometimes laughed at, but she pays no attention. But Aliera is very well at fencing. Especially things are going smoothly after Aliera`s mom bought her at discount store a cheap, but elegant foil with a jewel on the handle. Life of the girl may seem boring to someone: school, then with two changes to the fencing, then home, and on Saturdays to go visit Aunt Hannah and her cousin - but Aliera herself is happy about her life. But in school there appears a new boy, the most charming and attractive, and the biology teacher in the classroom gives him a place for one table with Aliera. And after a few lessons, where students must dissect a frog, handsome Avery invites Aliera on a date. The girl, of course, agrees, but he remembers what the coach told her: You must protect your heart, and she knows it's not just about fencing.
If you ask, where the fairy tale is, the answer is: all the magic will begin on the first date at the subway station. It will also include a battle with monsters, magic foil, secret of the handsome prince, and the author's clever move. The whole story is told in two colors (ie, it is almost black and white, though more green and white book), and it is not only the choice of the author and artist, but the effect has a logical explanation: the girl sees the world in only two colors.
If the story itself is too simple, then that helps Yolen out, so it is the abundance of close-ups. The author often shows us the child's face or her full height, at a cost of an entire page, and we see all the emotion on the face of Aliera: it certainly is a mystery in it, but not sealed. All stops in the middle of a sentence: we expect a sequel.