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Book Review

This modern fairy tale by Shannon Hale is the first in the " Ever After High" series published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

The Storybook of Legends is written for kids ages 8 to 12. The age range reflects readability and not necessarily content appropriateness.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

At Ever After High boarding school, kids prepare to follow their destinies as fairy-tale heroes or villains. Apple White can't wait for Legacy Day, when she and her classmates will sign the Storybook of Legends and pledge to follow in the footsteps of their fairy-tale parents. Apple knows she will get her happily ever after as the new Snow White. But Apple's roommate, Raven Queen, is much less enthusiastic. Her destiny is to become like her evil mother, handing out poisoned apples and causing grief and pain.

Raven doesn't want to be evil. But if Raven fails to sign the book, what will happen to Apple? At best, the girls would disappear with a poof along with their fairytale. At worst, at least in Apple's opinion, they would all face an unscripted life full of uncertainty.

Raven learns about a character named Bella Sister, who once refused to sign the Storybook on Legacy Day. She wonders what happened to Bella and whether she vanished or created her own happy ending. As Raven digs into the past for clues, Apple comes along to lend a guiding hand to her rebel roommate. Meanwhile, Raven observes and talks to other students who are also secretly unhappy with being forced into a particular destiny.

Following a clue, Raven and Apple journey far from school and believe they've found Bella's remains. Apple is convinced this proves no one who goes "off book" can have a happy ending. Later, on a tip given by the narrator, Milton Grimm, Maddie Hatter takes Raven to a library called the Vault of Lost Tales. There, they meet Headmaster Giles Grimm, Milton's brother, who admits that Legacy Day is a hoax and the Storybook of Legends has no real power.

Legacy Day arrives, with all its pomp and pageantry. As princesses rush around putting on their glamorous dresses, Raven tries to decide what she'll do about signing the book. Initially, minions of goblins and other creatures praise her. Though she enjoys the power she feels, she realizes that she is not an evil princess who will become an evil queen. She walks to the podium. Instead of signing the Storybook, she rips out her page. She realizes choice is the most powerful kind of magic.

The crowd erupts as teachers and students scream and faint. Apple and many other royals are angry. But other students who are like Raven, who disliked having no choice in their future, stand with her. In an epilogue, Milton Grimm admits he tried to trick Raven into signing by faking Bella Sister's death and leaving other false clues. He makes plans to set the situation right so no one will defy him again.

Christian Beliefs

None

Other Belief Systems

Characters like Raven's mother are called dark and evil, but their behavior and resulting magic aren't violent or brutal. For example, the Evil Queen turns Raven's pet dog into a rat because she thinks it is a more fitting pet for a sorceress. Raven uses magic a few times, sometimes by accident, and is largely unsuccessful because she's trying to do good rather than evil.

Raven and Maddie Hatter take a potion to make themselves temporarily small. Raven says she dislikes potions because they remind her of her mother. Other students cast spells as part of their training to become full-grown fairy-tale characters. For example, several princesses find ways to escape from tall towers for one of their classes. The author makes plays on words, where the girls get a mani- or pedi-curse or say things like, "What the hex?"

Authority Roles

Headmaster Grimm creates an elaborate scheme to convince Raven that she must sign the Storybook of Legends. He's angry when his plan fails, and he vows to solve the problem of students choosing their own destinies. Raven's mother, the Evil Queen, embraces her "badness" and believes her daughter should as well. She is currently imprisoned in a mirror. Raven's father is a good king.

When Raven was a child, her parents couldn't agree and eventually split the castle down the middle. Raven lived half the week with each of them. Guidance counselor Baba Yaga tells Raven that choice is a dangerous word and that she must not throw it around lightly. Another time, the counselor tells Apple that she finds the girl extremely disappointing because Apple's hair is blond rather than black like the traditional Snow White.

Profanity/Violence

The word butt appears once.

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

None

Discussion Topics

Get free discussion questions for this book and others, at ThrivingFamily.com/discuss-books.

Additional Comments/Notes

Other negative behavior: Raven and her friends lie and sneak out as they try to learn the truth about Bella Sister.


This review is brought to you by Focus on the Family, a donor-based ministry. Book reviews cover the content, themes and world-views of fiction books, not their literary merit, and equip parents to decide whether a book is appropriate for their children. A book's inclusion does not constitute an endorsement by Focus on the Family.

You can request a review of a title you can't find at reviewrequests@family.org.

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