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Princess of the wild swans by Diane Zahler
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Princess of the wild swans (edition 2012)

by Diane Zahler

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373306,014 (3.56)1
Member:Raina-Raine
Title:Princess of the wild swans
Authors:Diane Zahler
Info:New York : Harper, c2012.
Collections:INFM 208
Rating:***1/2
Tags:fairy tales, fantasy, children's literature, juvenile fiction, witches, swan princes, stepmothers, brothers and sisters, princesses

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Princess of the Wild Swans by Diane Zahler

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2.5 stars. Not the best retelling but good for younger readers. ( )
  Mirandalg14 | Aug 18, 2014 |
Headstrong Princess Meriel spends most of her time escaping from her governess and attempting to emulate her beloved older brothers -- but when her father brings home a new wife, Meriel's life changes, and not for the better. Meriel's stepmother sends the boys away to school -- or so she says. When Meriel discovers six swans swimming on a nearby lake, though, she realizes the truth. With the help of a local family of witches, Meriel learns that she must sew shirts for each of her brothers from nettles -- and she must do so without speaking. In the meantime, her stepmother's cruel magic threatens everyone in the vicinity, and winter is fast approaching. Will Meriel be able to rescue her brothers in time?

I've always loved fairy tales and fairy tale retellings, but not all of them are created equal. This particular retelling is enjoyable enough, but does not stand out in what has become a rather crowded genre. I have a few issues with the plot (note to the squeamish: these could be considered spoilers), and they all come down to the ability of various magic-users to read minds. Meriel's ability to mind-speak with her magic-wielding friends undercuts the drama of her not being able to speak aloud while making the shirts (it feels like cheating, to be frank); and the stepmother's ability to read minds, but inability to learn about Meriel's brothers because Meriel's father thought only of his daughter . . . well, I just didn't buy it.

I'd recommend this to children who are discovering the fairy tale retelling genre for the first time, as it is a less frequently told tale (and the other retellings that I can think of are for older readers), and to fans of this fairy tale in general. Adult readers looking for a retelling of this tale, though, should look first at Juliet Marillier's Daughter of the Forest. ( )
  foggidawn | Dec 13, 2012 |
Diane Zahler’s new children’s novel Princess of the Wild Swans owes its essence to the fairy tales The Six Swans (Brothers Grimm) and The Wild Swans (Hans Christian Andersen), but changes some aspects of the story to reflect more modern values.

Princess Meriel’s biggest challenge to date has been trying to avoid her governess’s lessons, but when her father, the King, comes home unexpectedly with a new Queen, she finds herself trying to match wits with her stepmother, an evil witch who turns her five brothers into swans. To break the spell, Meriel must make a shirt for each of her brothers from nettles, picking, spinning, weaving and sewing each shirt herself, and she must not speak a word until the task is complete. Meriel is taken in by a family of (good) witches and half-witches in the nearby village. But the malice of the evil Queen puts the entire village in danger, as she searches frantically for Meriel to keep her from completing her task. The tale races to an exciting conclusion that pits good against evil and reveals the extent of the Queen’s dark alliances.

Although the story is clearly not set in modern times, Meriel’s character is very much a modern girl: sassy, impulsive, head-strong, and determined to take control of her own life; quite unlike the meek and pious princess of the Grimm and Andersen tales. For this reason, children of today will be able to identify with her quite easily. The story is much more action-oriented than the original tales, and the battles between the good and evil witches bring to mind the world of Harry Potter, all elements likely to appeal to modern children. As a story it is engaging and fun to read. Recommended for ages 8 to 12. ( )
  Raina-Raine | Dec 4, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Diane Zahlerprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gilbert, YvonneIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062004921, Hardcover)

Princess Meriel's brothers have been cursed. A terrible enchantment--cast by their conniving new stepmother--has transformed the handsome princes into swans. They now swim forlornly on a beautiful heart-shaped lake that lies just beyond the castle walls.
Meriel will do whatever it takes to rescue her beloved brothers. But she must act quickly. If Heart Lake freezes, her brothers will be forced to fly south or perish.
With help from her newfound friends Riona and Liam--a pretty half-witch and her clever brother--Meriel vows to finish a seemingly impossible task. If she completes it, her brothers may be saved.
But if she fails . . . all will be lost.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:04:42 -0400)

Twelve-year-old Princess Meriel must sew shirts from stinging nettles in order to rescue her five older brothers from their evil stepmother's spell lest they remain swans forever. Inspired by the Andersen fairy tale, "The Wild Swans."

(summary from another edition)

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