Monday 17 May 2010

Book Review - Waking Beauty by Julie Parrish

8-year-old Sophie is a total bookworm and loves reading just about anything she can get her hands on, either by herself or aloud to her younger brother and sister. She's at that in-between stage where she's outgrown her picture books and Enid Blyton stories but she gets put off by anything too long-winded or containing too many difficult words. At the moment she's big into Jacqueline Wilson novels (if you're not aware of her books, you might know Tracey Beaker on TV).

Well, Waking Beauty, the debut novel of Julie Parrish, was absolutely perfect for her, nicely bridging the gap between fairy stories and teenage chicklit. As the title suggests, this book picks up where Sleeping Beauty left off, so we all know the beginning - Sleeping Beauty, AKA Princess Anna, pricks her finger on a spinning wheel and succombs to a wicked witch's curse, falling asleep for 100 years until she can be woken up by a kiss from her Prince Charming. Well, that was in 1909. Fast forward a century and Princess Anna is woken up by Leo Prince, a boy from a dodgy council estate who is in trouble with the police and who kissed the sleeping Anna as a dare.

Like a female version of the time-travelling Dr Who, Anna has to come to terms with a totally alien environment and get to grips with all the trappings of modern teen life : mobile phones, Facebook and Brent Cross shopping centre, to name but a few. The book is described as a "funny and moving fairytale played out against a backdrop of gritty council estates, posh schools and evil witches" - yes, that's right, the evil witches and fairies from the original story are alive and kicking in this modern world too !

As this is a novel aimed at the tween/teen market, it's punchy and fast-paced. Even as a grownup, it's an enjoyable and often funny read. Kids will identify with the characters in the novel, the way they speak and the things they get up to. There's a love interest but nothing untoward happens - if it was a film, it would be a PG rating so parents don't need to worry about any unsuitable content.

Speaking of films, rumour has it that Tim Burton is planning to direct a Sleeping Beauty remake called Maleficent, hot on the heels of his Alice in Wonderland success. If he does this, I'm sure Sleeping Beauty will become the next big thing and teens will be lapping up anything vaguely related to it. (It's no good telling them Alice in Wonderland has been around for donkey's years and that you were reading it before they were even a twinkle in their daddy's eye, they won't believe you - they've claimed it as their own now !). I'm sure Waking Beauty will go down a storm. The gritty London setting and the streetwise characters wouldn't be out of place in Waterloo Road or Eastenders !

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £6.99

Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Matador (31 Mar 2010)
Language English
ISBN-10: 1848762879
ISBN-13: 978-1848762879

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