Author: Edith Pattou
Year Published: 2003
Number of Pages: 498 pages
Date Read: 12/2/2010
Series: East #1
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Content Rating: Ages 13+ (Some Intense Scenes)
I never would have thought that there could be a whole chapter book retelling of a classic fairy tale other than Shannon Hale’s “The Goose Girl.” Well, I have just recently stumbled upon this book called “East” that happens to be a great retelling of a classic fairy tale! “East” is a retelling of a classic Scandinavian folktale called “East of the Sun West of the Moon” by Edith Pattou and anyone who is a huge fan of fairy tales will definitely get a kick out of this book!
Rose is the youngest child of seven children and because she was a born a North born child, according to her mother, she always loved exploring her homeland Njord and getting into trouble. One day, however, a mysterious white bear comes in and promises Rose’s family that he will make them rich if they agree to let Rose come away with him to his cave. At first, Rose’s family did not want her to leave with the white bear, but Rose decided to go with the white bear to save her family and so she and the white bear traveled for days until they reached the white bear’s magnificent cave where Rose lived for many years. During her years with the white bear, Rose realizes that a mysterious stranger has been sleeping in bed next to her and when she discovers the stranger’s true identity, she embarks on a journey to save her true love from a terrible curse!
Beautiful! Simply Beautiful! I never would have thought that I would have read a retelling of a popular folktale that was written so beautifully! Edith Pattou has certainly done an excellent job at retelling the ancient Scandinavian folktale. I loved the way that Edith Pattou added more elements to this story such as adding background information about each character in the book, especially Rose and we actually get to read about the other point of views of each character associated with Rose’s life like her father, her brother Neddy, the White Bear and the Troll Queen. What I loved the most about this book is that each chapter is split up into a different character’s point of view. Like for example, you have one chapter entitled “Rose” and the chapter is narrated by Rose herself and her point of view on the situation she is thrown into and then another chapter would be entitled “White Bear” and the white bear is narrating the chapter, and I really love this setup because you can actually get a feel of what each character is thinking about the situation at hand. Another thing that I loved about this book was the relationships between all the characters in this book, especially between Rose, Neddy and her father. I loved the way that Neddy and Rose’s father cared so much about Rose that they were willing to put their lives at stake in order to rescue her from any kind of danger. I also loved the fairy tale elements in this story, especially since this story is based off of “East of the Sun West of the Moon” and I am a huge fan of many fairy tales and folktales, so the fairy tale elements in this story (enchantment, epic journey) are always relaxing to me. I also think many people would enjoy this story if they enjoyed “The Golden Compass” since this book does have a similar element to “The Golden Compass” which is a girl riding a white bear on her journey.
Now the reason why I gave this book a four and a half star rating instead of a five star rating is because the story tends to drag on too long in certain scenes such as during the scenes where Rose is exploring the cave of the white bear and she is describing every single item she comes across. It is alright to describe some items that have significance to the story, but to describe every other item that has nothing to do with the main point of the story does become tiresome really fast.
Overall “East” is truly an absolute masterpiece in its own right as it is filled with drama, fantasy and romance that anyone who is a huge fan of fairy tales will instantly take a liking to.
* 2004 Michigan Library Association Thumbs Up! Award Nominee
* 2008 Rebecca Caudill Young Reader's Book Award Nominee
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