by Deva Fagan
Henry Holt and Co.
Release Date: April 14, 2009
Recommended for: Grades 4-7
Copy provided by author
I really enjoyed this fairy tale my debut author Deva Fagan, and found myself drawn in to the adventure, budding romance and unexpected plot twists, just like a tween for whom it's written. I love that Nata is devilishly smart, keenly observant and uses her gifts to keep her family together - but without being too overly sappy or irritatingly infallible. Every character has flaws that both frustrate and endear them to the reader.
Another pleasant surprise was the fantastic higher-level vocabulary peppered throughout the novel in such an accessible way as to build stronger readers, rather than scare off younger, less-advanced ones. A quick early example from page 2:
I pulled my apron up to cover the basket of hideous shoes I carried. I still held a particularly wretched pair in my other hand. Niccolo sauntered forward and plucked the read shoes from my grasp. "Dear girl, do you really expect anyone to purchase these?" Some of the market-goers had paused to observe our interchange and ogle the shoes. Curse the man, but he was right. No one in their right mind would buy them.
Overall, a great read for upper elementary and middle school. Find a place for it in your collection.