A Book Review of Snow and Rose by Emily Winfield Martin. A re-imagined fairy tale with the most gorgeous illustrations!
I've loved Emily Winfield Martin's art for a long time. When she started publishing her beautifully illustrated children's books, I was so delighted and promptly added each one to our home library as they were released. But I was over the moon when I found out that she had written and illustrated a chapter book!
I ordered a copy of Snow and Rose as soon as the book came out. It was only after it arrived that I hesitated. Yes, I loved her picture books and her illustrations, but that's very different from a 205 page chapter book. What if her magic didn't translate to a middle grade audience?
My fears, however, were unfounded. This re-imagined fairy tale is as enchanting as I hoped it would be!
The illustrations, of course, are magical. There are 19 chapters and 20 full page illustrations, so at least one a chapter. There are also a lot of smaller illustrative details throughout. There are an additional 6 pages of pictures at the end illustrating details from the book. My kids pored over these and tried to replicate them in their own sketchbooks.
I always think books like this, with chapters broken up by pictures, make good read alouds for younger kids - the pictures help them hold their attention through the chapters. I read this aloud with my kids (ages 11, 9, 7, and 3) and we all loved it! It was just the right combination of magic, mystery, and fairy tale adventure to keep everyone looking forward to our bedtime chapters.
"Once, there were two sisters. . ."
The story itself is based on the Grimm fairy tale, Snow White and Rose Red. I didn't go back and revisit the original Grimm tale, but Esme, my 11 year old, has read them so many times that she knows them almost by heart. I have it on her good authority that Martin's version is true to the original and probably the more captivating version of the two.
The tale follows two young girls, Snow and Rose, who have moved to a small cottage in the forest with their mother after their father mysteriously disappears. The woods, however, are enchanted and although Snow and Rose don't know it, it's up to them to break the spell that haunts them all.
Martin adds a few charming and memorable new characters to the old story, like the boy mushroom farmer who befriends Snow and Rose and joins them in their adventures. Martin also introduces readers to the strange and wonderful librarian of a library without books in the middle of the enchanted forest. She, with her goats, is one of my favorite characters. It's all so magical and fun.
The physical book is absolutely beautiful. Five stars for its illustrated details, full color pictures, thick heavy pages, and the gold foil on the cover. The good news though is that the writing is just as satisfying. The writing is lyrical and descriptive, which made it so fun to read aloud. The story unfolds like an old fashioned fairy tale, instantly enchanting and gripping.
My favorite thing about this book is how Martin manages to end so many of the chapters with just enough mystery to make it impossible not to read the next chapter right away. So many nights we'd finish our chapter and those last haunting words would have all four of my kids clamoring for "just one more, just one more."
"The shadow followed. It waited and it watched. But it was too late to run. The shadow found Ivo, and Ivo never found his way home."
But when all is said and done, there's a happy ending. All the best fairy tales have happy endings.
We thoroughly enjoyed this book. And because it has that timeless charm like all the best fairy tales, I don't doubt we'll be reading it again. In the meantime, it looks awfully pretty on the shelf.
I recommend this book to:
- Anyone that loves fairytales
- Anyone looking for a family read aloud
- Anyone that loves a little mystery and magic
- Anyone that appreciates really beautiful illustrations
- Anyone that needs a happy ending
- Kids ages 8 to 12 looking for a book to read on their own
- Kids 5 and up looking for a book to listen to or read with someone