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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow* by Jessica Day George- young adult book review
Also by Jessica Day George:

Dragon Spear (Dragon Slippers)

Tuesdays at the Castle

Princess of Glass

Dragon Slippers

Dragon Flight
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
by Jessica Day George
Grades 7+ 336 pages Bloomsbury USA January 2008 Hardcover    

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow is a graceful retelling of an ancient Norwegian legend, a favorite of the author herself. In the authorís note, we learn that after all of her life experience, travel and education, she thought herself perhaps worthy to attempt to share the story that so captured her own imagination. Jessica Day George, author of Dragon Slippers, is definitely up to the task.

Sun and Moon is a cautionary tale of what becomes of too much inquisitiveness. A young girl not even gifted with a name at birth (her mother was simply so disgusted at bearing yet another useless female child that she chose not to name the little lass) finds herself caught up in a story that has been told over and over: a story of true love, wisdom, cleverness, and impossible strength of character, but also of greed, vanity, and a repetitious burning curiosity that nearly ruins them all. In a land of endless winter and constant hunger, the lass will change everything.

It begins with the hunt of the legendary white reindeer that is known to offer a wish to whatever human finds him. Unexpectedly, the heroine learns that she is able to understand the voices of animals after she meets the reindeer. Shortly after, the huge white polar bear descends on her house to make a deal with the girl: if she will come away with him to live in a palace of ice for a full year, her family will be cared for with food and wealth. Looking into the hungry faces of her family, she feels that she has no choice.

The characters are simply delightful. From sweet to stony and warm to ice-clad evil, the idiosyncratic array of creatures is never dull. Mother Frida is the self-centered mother of nine children - which is about six too many, after the favorite lucky third son, Askeladden. Lassí eldest brother, Hans Peter, who comes home from his few years at sea a sad, old, broken man, is the only one of the family who really grieves her loss when she leaves with her polar bear. Her wolf pet, Rollo, is allowed to join her. Erasmus the faun, gargoyles, silkies and salamanders - the sorts of creatures that even now make little eyes dance with wonder.

Georgeís beautiful description and ridiculously engaging storytelling kept me captivated - so much so that this reader curled up and read the entire book in a sitting, not realizing that hunger and tiredness were both calling very loudly. Lost in an icy world full of wonderfully exotic words and names, I didnít look up until Iíd closed the book. There is a smallish bibliography at the end, but what really crowns this work is the glossary - a very nice touch for anyone who is new to these sorts of words and stories.

Perhaps the most wonderful outcome of having read this story is that I am now much more curious about the other legends of old, and can only hope that children who read the lassí story will feel the same. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow is one of those rare books that can be enjoyed by families, not just the children.

Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Carolynn Evans/2008 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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