Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

I’d known this title for quite some time before, but I didn’t pick it up right away to avoid the possibility of getting disappointed. I didn’t know what to expect and well, to be honest, I was not aware that this book was based on a fairy tale. With that being said, encountering the book’s title didn’t exactly catch my attention. Plus, it wasn’t in my comfort genre. Several months later, though, when I discovered the blogosphere and saw that the book received high praises from the bloggers, it finally convinced me to buy a copy (from Book Depository) and read it.

Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:

The Goose Girl coverPrincess Anidori spends the first years of her life listening to her aunt’s enthralling stories. Little does she realise how valuable her aunt’s strange knowledge will be when she grows older. At the age of sixteen, Ani is told that she must leave her homeland to marry someone she has never met. But fate has much worse in store for her in this original and magical tale of a girl who must understand her own incredible talent before she can overcome those who wish her harm. A story of betrayal, jealousy and romance.

The beginning of the book already catches my attention and captures my heart unexpectedly. I don’t always feel something like this when reading books and being Shannon Hale’s first book to be picked up, The Goose Girl proves to live up to my expectations.

Right at the start, I already feel some connection to Princess Ani. I’m not the eldest child in the family, but I understand the pressure projected by the parents to their eldest child, being given more responsibilities and expectations, etc. It’s, indeed, hard to act like someone you’re not and readers can see what Ani had been through to impress the queen and soon realizes that she cannot make her mother proud as she wants her to be. It is evident that as she is being deprived of her growing special ability, she begins to feel more insecure of her weakness.

I cannot help but express empathy towards Ani. Witnessing the hardships that she goes through throughout the book brings heaviness to my heart. I keep telling myself that she deserves something better. On the other hand, I know that what she experiences will be significant in shaping her character to become a better person. This phase in her life has also given her the opportunity to hone her unique talent. I guess the statement: “Everything happens for a reason.” best describes this phenomenon.

I have read the summarized original version of The Goose Girl tale online and looking back at the story written by Shannon Hale, all I can say is that she delivers the retelling well. She retains most of the details, but adds more characters and makes a twist in the storyline to make it more interesting. What I love about the book is the deep bond and friendship formed between Ani and Falada, her and Talone, Geric, Enna, and the rest of her friends when she becomes the goose girl. The development and dynamism in their characterization have been significant in Shannon Hale’s story building, especially Ani’s. The book is able to show that facing one’s weakness will eventually make him/her stronger and braver.

Ani’s experience being a commoner definitely opened her eyes to a world she never thought of seeing. I can relate to this in a sense that the university where I studied before had an immersion program where the students in their senior year get to live for a few days with a family in a less fortunate society. My immersion experience was definitely a bit scary at the beginning, but worth it in the end. In a way, I definitely learned a lot from the family I lived in with.

Anyway, moving on, I enjoyed the book to the fullest. The story build-up flows so naturally and gets more entertaining as it develops further. Every scene is even elaborated in great detail that it seems like a movie is playing in my head. I can say that The Goose Girl is one of the best retellings I’ve read in my whole life. I would love to read more of this in the future. It’s so captivating and gripping that Shannon Hale’s writing style brings out some magical element to the readers, too. Even I don’t want the story to end, but every story has to. Although of course, Ani’s life and story will still live on beyond the pages of the book. I definitely recommend this book to people of all ages.


The Stamp Collector by Jennifer Lanthier

I encountered this title when I was browsing the internet before and being a stamp collector myself, I did not hesitate to get a copy of this book for myself. But of course, I knew it’s more than just about stamps and the collector.

Here’s the plot description from the back cover of the book:

The Stamp Collector coverThis is the story of not long ago and not far away. It is the story of a boy who loves stamps and a boy who loves words. This is the story of a life that is lost. And found.

This is actually a picture book with illustrations by François Thisdale. I have to say, François Thisdale did an amazing job translating Jennifer Lanthier’s words into drawings. The illustrations perfectly describe what the story intends to tell to its readers. They are drawn with authenticity and meaning. François Thisdale definitely succeeds in capturing the mood of the story and emphasizing the connection between the two protagonists through the stamps and words. I am undeniably at awe with his talent as I devour every detail of the pictures as they seemingly come alive in my mind. The pictures of the stamps are just as amazing as well.

Who knew a single stamp would be the key to connect two persons of different backgrounds, interests, and beliefs and form an exceptional kind of friendship throughout the years. Jennifer Lanthier surely crafts the story with simplicity, but it’s beautifully written – filled with symbolical meanings and depth. Stamps and words are represented by more than just what they are in themselves. Jennifer Lanthier explicitly elaborates the significance of each word in the protagonists’ lives.

I must say, The Stamp Collector affects me in ways I can never imagined it would. The book demonstrates some political themes that are present in real life. It’s not unusual that some people in certain parts of the world are deprived of their freedom of speech and writing. Words undoubtedly are powerful and can bring strength to some, while they can threaten others as well. On the other hand, stamps try to eliminate boundaries and remind us that we can still reconnect despite each other’s differences.

Overall, this is a book worth-reading. I could never get tired of its fresh story that can bring light and hope to those in despair. The young and old can learn a lot from this book. I could reread this again and again. I truly enjoyed it to the fullest.


The Sandman: The Story of Sanderson Mansnoozie by William Joyce

Okay, so I was looking forward to reading this book, but it took me a while to acquire a copy. I was in conflict with my decision on where to buy it, whether from a local bookstore or from Book Depository. I was informed that Fully Booked will be having copies of this, but their orders haven’t yet arrived, so I just reserved a copy if in case it arrived. In the end, my patience was tested and later on decided to just buy a copy from Book Depository.

Here’s the plot description from the jacket cover of the book:

The Sandman coverThe Man in the Moon has a problem.

Most nights, he beams down at the children of Earth, providing them with an inextinguishable nightlight that keeps nightmares at bay. But what happens when it’s foggy or cloudy? When the moon is less than full and bright? Who will keep the children safe at night?

He needs a helper! And he’s spied just the fellow: a sleepy little guy named Sanderson Mansnoozie (Sandy, for short), who might be perfect…if only the Man in the Moon can get him to wake up.

Sandman01Weee…  Sandman! Have you guys watched Rise of the Guardians? I have actually known the existence of these picture books and chapter books that William Joyce wrote when I found out about the movie. In fact, I thought the movie will be based on the books, but the movie has a totally different story, which I believe has happened hundreds of years after the books’ occurrences.

William Joyce once again does not disappoint in this second book in The Guardians of Childhood picture book series. As the title suggests, the book will be about Sandman this time around. The illustrations are still equally amazing as the ones in The Man in the Moon. I can’t get enough of the pictures drawn in great scrutiny as I turn each page slowly to savor each detail and color. Furthermore, the prose is written with simplicity, but William Joyce maintains to put rhymes here and there to make it lyrical.

Sandman02

The book certainly does not miss anything on Sandman’s history and on how and why he is chosen to become one of the Guardians of Childhood. I hope William Joyce will write the other guardians’ origins in his future picture books. The Sandman is truly one enjoyable, short read perfect for those who want to discover the magic behind dreams.