Middle Grade, Fairy Tale
February 10, 2015
11 Year Old Daughter's Bookshelf
December 2, 2022 - January 28, 2023
For fans of Shannon Hale, Adam Gidwitz, and Michael Buckley comes a luminous new twist on a tale readers only thought they knew. . .
Once upon a time, there was a girl with golden locks. But that’s just the beginning of this tale. The real story begins with a bear.
Ursula is a young she-bear who has come to work as a governess at the Vaughn estate. Although she is eager to instruct her young charge, Teddy, she is also frightened, especially when inexplicable things happen in the huge house after dark. Ursula is sure she has heard footsteps in the hallways at night, and that something is following her during her walks in the Enchanted Forest. Then there is Mr. Bentley, a young bear also employed by Mr. Vaughn, whose superior disposition is enough to drive Ursula to tears . . . and yet why does he also make her heart race? As Ursula works to unravel the mysteries of the Vaughn manor, she will have to be very, very careful. After all, true love, justice, and a girl with golden locks are at stake. And in the Enchanted Forest, not every fairy tale is destined for a happily ever after.
Personal rating: 2 Stars
Given rating: 3 stars (read on to find out why!)
Adorable cover. Adorable concept. Great start! And then…. it dragged. But the ending was good!
Before I go on, I have to preface this review with the following: I am not the target demographic. My daughter loved this book, I struggled. This is not a BAD book, it just wasn’t for me personally.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming…
My 11-year old daughter picked this book out at the bookstore, brought it home, and devoured it. I had read the back cover and asked if I could read it next, and she of course said, “Yes!”
So I started reading it. And it took almost 2 months to get through it.
Like I said above, the beginning of this book was great. The introduction of “baby bear” (Teddy’s) new governess, Ms. Brown, was a unique take on the Goldilocks and the Three Bears tale. But then it got depressing. Nobody was nice to Ms. Brown! Nurse was down right MEAN, right up until the bitter end! Papa Bear jumped to conclusions and never let Ms. Brown defend herself! But I kept reading, and thinking to myself, how did my daughter get joy from these miserable characters?
The middle of the book dragged. For me, it was one of those books that I’d think about quitting but push on, then something interesting/redeeming happened, only to drag again. And repeat.
The story is told in a very old writing style, and it was at times reminiscent of when I struggled through reading Pride & Prejudice and swore off books written before my own youth.
There are plenty of good things about this book.
1. It’s a unique spin on the classic tale. This wasn’t a tiny, rickety, old cottage, it was more of a grand manor belonging to very well-off bears in the Enchanted Forest.
2. There’s a strong message for tolerance and againstracism/prejudice. The parallels between our world and this fictional one are obvious, but done in a way for children to truly understand and be interested in.
3. Even the worst character was allowed some redemption, the author was able to develop them enough so that I still hated them, but I was able to understand where they were coming from.
4. The book is very well written!
Ultimately, this was not a book for me. It is however, a great book for the target audience (young readers) and truly does belong in elementary school libraries.