The Sleeper and the Spindle

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Sleeper and the Spindle Book Poster Image
Sly combo of two fairy tales makes for literary magic.

Parents say

age 18+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Sleeper and the Spindle offers an alternate take on the legends of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. It can prompt discussion of the roles of girls in fairy tales.

Positive Messages

Young women can choose the roles for themselves they want. Good and evil cannot be determined from outward appearances. The need for admiration and approval can cause tragedy.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The black-haired queen sets out on a quest to save her kingdom, even though it's nearly her wedding day. She's brave in the face of peril and makes her own decisions about how to live her life.


Someone is stabbed in the breast with a spindle.


One illustration shows a young woman about to kiss another young woman, although the context is not romantic. 


A dwarf is described as scratching his "arse."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In one scene set in a tavern, a "sot" dispenses advice.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Sleeper and the Spindle by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Chris Riddell uses some of the details of "Snow White" and "Sleeping Beauty" to spin a new kind of fairy tale. Violence is limited to a shallow stabbing with a spindle. The only strong language is "arse." There's an illustration of a young woman about to kiss another young woman, but it's not romantic. A scene set in a tavern includes a talkative "sot."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

Three brave, hardy dwarves make their way to a dark-haired queen and tell her that a wave of sleeping sickness threatens her kingdom. Forgoing her wedding plans, the queen sets off with the dwarves in search of a castle shrouded by thorns, wherein lies a princess cursed by a wicked witch. By the end of THE SLEEPER AND THE SPINDLE, the queen and her short companions discover secrets that will change their outlook on life and magic.

Is it any good?

With gorgeous black-and-while illustrations (with a touch of gold), this clever combination and retelling of two classic fairy tales brims with literary magic. Readers who like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty will see that this sly new take offers twists and turns in unpredictable directions. Neil Gaiman's prose and Chris Riddell's drawings mesh precisely, and their latest collaboration should appeal to a wide range of readers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why folk and fairy tales have endured for centuries. What is it about these stories that make them so compelling to modern audiences?

  • How do people make choices when confronted by a dilemma? Isn't acting the same as making a choice?

  • Can you tell whether someone is "good" or "bad" just by looking at the person?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fairy tales and fantasy

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate