Tuesday, July 18, 2017

A Further Tales Adventure: The Mirror's Tale by P. W. Catanese

As punishment for misbehaving, twins Bert and Will are separated for the summer. Bert is sent off to his Uncle Hugh’s mountain fortress while Will stays home to train with Andreas the knight. While exploring his new surroundings, Bert discovers a secret chamber housing the mirror the Witch Queen used to plot against Bert and Will’s descendant, Snow White. Bert reawakens the mirror and soon he is poisoned by it’s power. But before Bert is fully enslaved, he writes a letter to Will telling him about the mirror. Bert's letter sets in motion a war no one was expecting.

Catanese’s book may be based on fairytale, but the problems Bert and Will encounter—addiction, deceit, and low self-esteem—are real issues many face. When Bert finds the mirror, it’s deluding influence makes Bert forget how it ruined the lives of Snow White and the Witch Queen. Like most addictions, the mirror seems harmless and enjoyable at first. Then, slowly, the mirror breaks down Bert’s reason and turns him against his family. When the mirror betrays Bert, he still feels sickly dependent for the mirror’s attention. Only Will’s love and the ugliness behind the mirror helps Bert to destroy it’s addictive hold on him. A rich read for ages 12 and up.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A Further Tales Adventure: The Thief and the Beanstalk by P.W. Catanese

Destitute orphan, Nick, knows the Jack and the Beanstalk legend. While infiltrating a fortress for a band of thieves, Nick sees evidence of Jack’s adventures, including the magic beans. Nick steals the beans to gain his own fortune. The beans sprout into the sky latching onto a cloud island where three giants live: Gullinda, the giantess who protected Jack, and Gnasher and Basher, her two evil sons. Gnasher and Basher have imprisoned Gullinda forcing her to weave beanstalk ropes for the brothers’ future invasion of Earth. Nick meets the captive Gullinda while searching for gold, but his sympathy drives him to free her. Once she escapes, Finch—the leader of the thieves—arrives to force Nick into stealing the giants’ wealth.

In Catanese’s re-released series, readers enter a world decades after Jack’s adventures. No one knows if Jack’s story is true until Nick enters Jack’s fortress. Jack sees himself in Nick and explains the guilt he still feels for betraying Gullinda to become rich. Unfortunately, Nick wants his own wealth. Jack allows Nick to steal the beans to find out what happened to Gullinda and help Nick learn his lesson. On the island Nick is faced with Jack’s same dilemma of helping Gullinda or stealing gold. Jack’s guilt rules Nick’s choice so he becomes a hero and not a thief. The book’s violence level is more appropriate for readers 13 and up.