Briar and Rose and Jack

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

It's always interesting to see how an author will re-imagine a familiar story. The more common the tale, the more inventive she has to be to make her book stand out. So Coville sets the bar high here, taking on both Sleeping Beauty and Jack And The Beanstalk. She manages it well, starting out with Sleeping Beauty as not one but two girls. And by combining the two stories, she closes long standing plot holes in both that might trouble a modern audience. All told, Coville's version of the stories makes a lot more sense. The ending is perhaps overly tidy but that's a minor flaw.
Was this review helpful?
Overall, this was a delightful story, and I do recommend it!  It’s a combination of Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk.  The Queen gives birth to twins, but the first baby has deformed features and is deemed unsuitable to be the heir.  Luckily, the second baby is perfect.  Due to some quick thinking on the Queen’s part, the first baby is going to be raised as the daughter of a distant Duke who passed away, but brought to the castle to be a playmate for the new princess. And thus we have Briar and Rose.  The wise women who helped with the birth, Hilde, is godmother to Briar.  The fairies are invited to the christening, except the gray fairy (obviously a mistake.)  Hilde has some magic, and switches the babies partway through the blessings of the fairies, trying to give Briar as much of an advantage in life as she can.  The babies are switched back in the middle of the gray fairy’s curse, and the effect is unknown until the girls turn sixteen.
Time skips forward to when the girls are nine, and they run about the castle and village.  They do not know that they are sisters, but are as close as can be.  We finally get to meet Jack.  He is a peasant and joins the girls in their games.  We also get to meet the giant.  He comes and terrorizes the castle and demands food and gold and destroys walls in his path.  The king has implemented a Giant Tax to pay for the demands, and the peasants feel the brunt of it.  The children vow to kill the giant, but realize that it will take time and planning.
We skip forward three years, and the children are twelve.  The dynamic between the girls is starting to change a bit.  More people come into their lives. We skip another three years and the dynamic has changed again.  The girls become more independent with different friend groups and different expectations.  Briar really has no expectations set upon her. Rose knows that she will have to marry whomever her father decides will be best for the kingdom.  Jack really is a nice boy, and his mother is kind and awesome, which is a nice change from the mean one we see sometimes.  

There were a couple little things that I would have changed, and that Katherine Coville may not realize have other meanings to them.  For example, the girls are singing a song about a goose who is trying to convince a maiden to marry him, but fails and is eaten.  But the verse the author writes is “And she choked on his meat and died.”  Um.  If that had been “bones” instead of “meat,” there would be no problem, or at least less of one.  But maybe the kids will get a kick out of that bit.  It’s just, you’re going along the story when all of a sudden you get thrown out into reality.  There’s also the issue of the “secret signal” the children have.  It’s made by making a circle with the thumb and forefinger.  So it’s either an “ok” sign, but that’s a bit obvious. So it’s probably low.  And that looks like the ASL for “asshole” or the hand-sign that kids use for a version of the game where if you see it, you get punched.  That one may not be as well known, but still!  At the beginning of the book, her descriptions are a bit too flowery to me, and don’t really match the rest of the story.
Was this review helpful?
This chapter book is a modern retelling of classic fairytales.  It is a great read for people of all ages!  I blew through this and was really interested in the plots and storylines.  They were different from the classics but you could tell which stories they were interpreting.  I believe 5th and 6th graders could begin reading this chapter book and truly enjoy it.
Thank you to Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This book had my interest and I thought it would be a great mashup of fairy tales but for it was a no. I tried but I just couldn't get into it nor would I recommend it to any readers.
Was this review helpful?
I am questioning how Kathrine Coville's works flew under my radar, as I have read several of her husbands books. Briar and Rose and Jack is a perfect blend of modern storytelling with classical fairytale elements. An entertaining tale of friendship, trust, and bravery. The traditional fairy tale components helped up well with the more contemporary character types.  It is a unique blend of Jack & the Bean Stalk and Sleeping Beauty.   I'd recommend this book to those in the upper elementary and middle grades interested in fantasy, a retelling of classic fairytales. The writing style is verbose and flower, which I enjoyed. I could see struggling and reluctant readers being turned off by the writing style though. At first, the present tense telling of the narrative was difficult to wrap my mind around. Until I began to read it aloud to myself (and my cat), then the tense, the language, and the story flowed. I did feel like characters need further development.
Was this review helpful?
A gorgeous and thoughtful retelling of Sleeping Beauty and Jack In the Beanstalk. Exploring themes like love, loyalty, prejudice and justice, this new middle grade novel should be popular with the fairytale set. It would make a delightful classroom read aloud.

Thank you to Houghton Mifflin and NetGalley for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This is a fairytale mashup. The idea is wonderful and the author writes superbly, but somehow the execution failed for me. As a school librarian for 10-12 year olds I do not see students sticking with this one. The story line moves far too slowly, and the author is way too verbose. Using archaic words and many advanced words (some of which I even resorted to looking up) the author will only succeed in driving students from this story.  Unless teachers intend to use this story for vocabulary building, I wouldn’t recommend.
Was this review helpful?
Briar and Rose and Jack is told in a whimsical manner reminiscent of fairytales. It sets the tone for the stage, which is set in a small fairytale-esque kingdom.

Briar and Rose are a fun pair who maintain a close bond despite many attempts to separate the two. I love their close friendship and how it grows to include Jack while preserving their own bond.

For the most part, characters stay within the bounds of their stereotypes. The good people are good while the villainous are villainous to the end. The most complexity comes from Briar and Rose when they begin to find themselves at odds during their teenage years because of various misunderstandings and their growing differences as they mature into their unique identities.

Briar and Rose and Jack is a fun reimagining and combining of “Sleeping Beauty” and “Jack and the Beanstalk.” What I love is how girls and boys alike require saving in this novel. (One will save another only to need saving later on, and vice versa.) And how true love comes to them in many forms.

I recommend Briar and Rose and Jack to readers who enjoy a fairytale retelling that features multiple protagonists, close friendships, and the protagonists’ coming of age.
Was this review helpful?
I wasn't sure what to expect, but I enjoyed reading this. An interesting story with fun characters. Well written.
Was this review helpful?
I have to admit it ... I love modern re-tellings of fairy tales and fairy tale mash-ups! 

Katherine Coville has managed to do something quite extraordinary with this story, There are some really important lessons to be learned here and Coville mostly includes these lessons so casually that the reader isn't likely to know that they are learning something. It's got so much heart and depth and honesty that it goes well beyond a simple fairy tale.

Briar and Rose and Jack by Katherine Coville is a fantastic fairy tale mashup with a whole lot of heart.
Was this review helpful?
Though excessively plain Lady Briar and angelically beautiful Princess Rose are best friends from babyhood, they have no idea they are really twin sisters and that a terrible curse has been placed on one of them. In any case, they are too busy trying to avoid the cruelty often directed at Briar for her less-than-attractive features, making general mischief throughout the royal castle, and plotting with Briar's friend, village boy Jack, to someday thwart the malevolent giant who terrorizes the kingdom. While the narrative's pace is slow in sections and secondary characters are underdeveloped, middle graders who like traditional European fairy tales will be intrigued by this imaginative blending of Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk. Note: The publisher supplied an advance reading copy via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
Was this review helpful?
I received an electronic ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group through NetGalley.
2.5 stars
Coville creates a mix of two fairy tales - Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk. She adds some original characters including a twin for Briar named Rose. One is absolutely beautiful; one is not. Through a convoluted journey they resolve both tales by slaying the giant and waking both princesses with kisses. 
I like the premise and wanted to like the book more than I did. The pace is extremely slow for the first half. Some of the details could have been shortened or omitted without affecting the plot. The pace picks up toward the end and the final actions resolve quickly.
The constant abuse of one of the characters is definitely part of the fairy tale genre but was overdone. Most of the characters are not likeable and are distinctly one dimensional. 
I question whether the intended audience will read the entire book though I appreciate that the vocabulary will challenge them.
Was this review helpful?
Briar and Rose and Jack is a clever mashup of the tale of Sleeping Beauty and the story of Jack and the Beanstalk. As children, the homely but clever Briar, the beautiful Princess Rose, and the brave peasant Jack team up to defeat the evil giant who is terrorizing their kingdom. As the years pass, the three grow in their determination to see that the giant will never harm anyone ever again. Will the three friends succeed in their quest before it's too late? Read this excellent retelling of two fairy tales to find out!
Was this review helpful?
This book was very enjoyable to read!

Fairytales & retellings are some of my favorite type of reading & this was right up my alley. 

The friendship between Briar, Rose & Jack; for Briar & Rose from birth to their teens & then Jack, who they become friends with as children. Reading how things are for these characters & how true to real life people treat each other. Briar, who wasn't born beautiful but is strong, witty, & can sing & dance like a dream. Rose, who is the most beautiful girl, not always the smartest & sweet natured. And we have Jack, who isn't of noble blood, but has such a big heart & sees beyond outward beauty.

Students & adults can identify with the "cool" crowd, being bullied & such that this novel addresses. I love how Briar rises up above all of the meanness that is shown to her & is able to lead people when no one thought that anyone would follow her. This tale also shows that "true love" comes in may forms & anyone can become the hero of their own story.
Was this review helpful?
Mash up of Jack and the Beanstalk with Sleeping Beauty with some added twists.  The story seemed choppy and slow. Evil Bishop was allowed to be a bully throughout and physically whip and verbally abuse one of the main characters.
Was this review helpful?
I have to be honest, I didn't finish reading this retelling. 
I wanted to give it a good try so that I could give it an honest review, hoping that it started to make sense or started to be entertaining but I ultimately gave up on it. 
I feel as though maybe a first-person narrative may have made this more entertaining to read? The vocabulary level was very high for the intended audience in my opinion, the book in general was just incredibly wordy and lengthy when it didn't need to be as if the author was trying to reach a word count. 
I will say there is a lot of potential for this to be a good retelling/mash up but as it stood it seems more of a flop :/
Was this review helpful?
I have to admit it ... I love modern re-tellings of fairy tales and fairy tale mash-ups! This book, Briar and Rose and Jack, fits the latter as author Katherine Coville combines the classic fairy tales of Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Rose Red, and Jack and the Beanstalk  (and maybe a little Jack and the Giant Killer?)(note that we're talking of the classic stories and not the Disneyfied versions).

Briar and Rose are twin sisters but almost immediately after birth, Briar, the first-born by a matter of minutes, is whisked away and neither will know their true relationship for many years. A witch places a curse on the heir to the kingdom, that she shall prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into a deep sleep only to be awakened by true love's kiss. But will that curse fall on Rose, the girl everyone believes to be the heir, or Briar, the true heir?

As the girls grow older, Briar is not considered to be very pretty and is in fact scorned for her looks, while Rose is practically revered simply because she looks so pretty. But the girls don't care or pay much attention to what others think ... they are busy trying to protect the kingdom from the an evil giant who terrorizes the land. Along with Jack, a friend from the town, they set out to do what none of the adults have been able to do ... defeat the giant.

Katherine Coville has managed to do something quite extraordinary with this story ... not only has she combined a couple of classic fairy tales into a cohesive, exciting story, she has retained a great deal of the strength of the original stories while making them relevant and readable to today's audience. This is no small feat!

There are some really important lessons to be learned here  (perhaps most importantly, the lesson of image/appearance and what makes a person truly great) and Coville mostly includes these lessons so casually that the reader isn't likely to know that they are learning something.  There is one moment that I noted as a really nice teaching moment ... how to make paint ... and it works well in the book and most children reading it will find it to be a new discovery, but I did see it as an intentional teaching moment rather than a natural part of the story.

Though I admit that I like fairy tale re-tellings, I'd also have to say that I liked this book much more than I expected.  It's got so much heart and depth and honesty that it goes well beyond a simple fairy tale.

Looking for a good book? Briar and Rose and Jack by Katherine Coville is a fantastic fairy tale mashup with a whole lot of heart that should be on every child's bookshelf.

I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed how the story mashed together the fairytale of Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk. I would recommend this to any of the students I work with.
Was this review helpful?
Briar and Rose and Jack is a mangled retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk, Sleeping Beauty, and Beauty and the Beast? Briar and Rose are twins, but Briar is ugly and Rose is beautiful. (One thing that bothered me is how it opens up with their mother, the queen focused on "creating something beautiful" by giving birth. NO.) Their parents decide that they can't let it out that they had an ugly baby so announce that Rose is the heir and Briar is a ward. This is really gross. They spend Briar's entire childhood ignoring her and letting her be abused by the rest of the kingdom. She is beaten by the bishop and the king's response is that she needs to not attract his attention. The only love she gets is from Rose, the kennel dogs and her fairy godmother. The only thing that makes Briar special is the gifts her fairy godmother finagled for her (by switching her with Rose during the Sleeping Beauty fairy scene). (Of course, the only thing that makes Rose special is that she's pretty soooo....)  Even Jack, who is supposed to be in love with Briar only falls in love with her because of the fairy's gifts of dance and song.
The story is also told in third person present tense, which was not a good fit at all. Katherine Coville uses awkward language that is stilted and the vocab is way out of place for a middle grade book. Phrases that would fit in a high school textbook appear sprinkled throughout what is supposed to be a fun fantasy.
I did like the premise, and the team of children who band together to problem solve an issue that the adults seem to be ignoring, but it was not well executed.
Was this review helpful?
Lush vocabulary and likable characters people this fairy tale retelling which twists together Sleeping beauty and Jack and the Beanstack - with its own original material.  Written for middle grade readers, but carrying a somewhat advanced vocabulary, this will be a perfect read for strong readers.
Was this review helpful?