A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Egg & Spoon is an epic fantasy adventure from Gregory Maguire, the prolific author of the Wicked Years series. Harking back to an older, timeless style when authors did not write down to children, some of the story reads like a Grimm-style fairy tale. Kids are in peril, and there are scary witches and wild animals that might get you if you're not careful. Still, positive messages about caring for others and asking for less underscore the thrills, and there are plenty of laughs. Blood's mentioned a few times but not described in detail, and there's one hard slap on the face. Kissing is mentioned a few times in the context of breaking a spell. There's a lot of Russian folklore, and life before the revolution is vividly portrayed. There are rare uses of mild to moderate swear words, including "merde" (French for "s--t"). Read by Michael Page in the audiobook version, which the American Library Association named a 2015 Notable Children's Recording.
What's the story?
Cat's taking a train across western Russia to deliver a precious gift to the tsar. Elena's a peasant tending her ailing mother in a tiny village that's quickly running out of food. Cat's train gets stuck in Elena's village, and the two strike up an unlikely friendship. Eventually the train gets moving again, but Cat and Elena have accidentally switched places. Their improbable journeys, together and apart, take them into the presence of the tsar himself, to the arctic circle to talk with an ice dragon, and into the home of none other than the notorious witch Baba Yaga. If they can put things right, there just might be hope for the world.
Is it any good?
With this fairy-tale fantasy, Gregory Maguire hits it out of the park in the grand tradition of sweeping Russian epics, as exquisitely crafted as the Fabergé egg that causes all the trouble. His witty prose charms and delights; its effortless grace finds unexpected moments that touch the heart. The poetic rhythm and folktale style is a pleasure to read aloud.
The vocabulary's pretty advanced, but younger readers (or listeners) shouldn't be deterred. Most meanings are clear from the context, and if kids occasionally take the time to look up an unfamiliar word, they'll be richly rewarded. It's also a thrilling, fun, and funny fantasy that'll take people of all ages on a wildly imaginative ride to the most unexpected and delightful places.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why fantasies are so popular. Why do we enjoy reading them so much?
What makes Egg & Spoon similar to a traditional fairy tale? Is it the language or the story?
In the world of Egg & Spoon, the climate is changing, just as it is in our time. What do you think the author is asking us to do about it?
- Author: Gregory Maguire
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Great Girl Role Models
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Candlewick Press
- Publication date: September 9, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 496
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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