Briar and Rose and Jack

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 11 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I enjoyed reading this. An interesting story with fun characters. Well written.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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 :/
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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This was a wonderful mashup of two beloved fairytales.  There were enough new elements to the story to make it fresh while keeping enough of the original tales to be familiar.  The two stories were melded together seamlessly.  This is a great read for kids that are looking for fantasy.
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Just loved this book. At first I thought it was another same old same old story, boy was I was wrong. This tale is a great read for 10 year olds and older. The younger ones will love the story and older readers will enjoy the complexity. Anther great thing is that is is great for boys and girls. The main characters are girls but the male characters add to the story.
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I’m disappointed in how much the author tells us, sometimes repetitively, about the character’s motivations — for example, the Bishop we are told more than once has lost the values of love and compassion of his religion. It would be better for us as readers (and better writing) for the author to show us so we can make the inference ourselves. Not to mention, the whole plot is too predictable for my liking.
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I don't think this is going to go over well with the intended audience. It starts out too slow, the vocabulary is way too high for the audience, and personally, I couldn't wait to be finished reading. Not in a 'it's so good, I can't stop', but in a 'is this ever going to end' sort of way. The story was interesting, but not told in an appealing way.
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This is an intriguing read that kept me captivated and entertained. I enjoyed the present tense of the story, which many authors are uncomfortable doing. This is yet another amazing fairy tale retelling that readers will enjoy. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy.
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Briar and Rose and Jack is a really interesting retelling/combination of Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk. Based on the cover I wasn't expecting it to be quite what it was but I was pleasantly surprised by this and not disappointed. All in all a fun middle grades read that offers something a bit different than the classic fairy tale fare.
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Briar and Rose and Jack by Katherine Coville was not what I expected. It was much better. When you pick up a middlegrade novel, I feel like you have certain developed expectations for how the novel is going to be, but Briar and Rose and Jack surprised me. A lot. And as much as I love the cover here, I don't quite think that it does itself justice. I feel as though it really leaves you with ideas about the book prior to reading it that just don't actually come true. Admittedly, this is entirely based on my own expectations about the novel, but at the end of the day the book I read was not the one I had pictured I would be reading and I'm actually pretty glad for it.

The first thing that surprised me about this book was not that it was written in present tense, but rather that the present tense itself didn't bother me in the slightest. I've always been rather against books that are written in present tense, so much so that I almost always rate them lower. And despite the fact that I've almost always found present tense massively annoying, I barely noticed it at all while reading this book. Next was the fact that this novel is middlegrade as there were a great many words that even I didn't know the definition of, let alone a young kid. The reading level is definitely more advanced for the age that it's written for.

The story follows the lives of twin sisters Briar and Rose from their birth, where Briar is immediately cast out and disowned at the urging of a vicious priest, to the time of their sixteenth birthday where the curse cast on the infant children for the slight of not having extended an invitation to the grey fairy. In a kingdom plagued by a selfish and angry giant who comes down from the mountain and regularly smashes a hole in the castle wall as he demands gold and destroys the homes of the peasants and a villainous bishop whispering lies to the king and the people while harboring an extra special hatred for young Briar, the two young Princesses grow up in a world with plenty of injustices.

Among them lies the injustice of poor Briar being disowned and mistreated. Both Briar and Rose have no knowledge of their relation, though they grow up exceedingly close. It is in this portion of the novel that I find the book was most difficult to read as there are unfortunate incidents in which Briar is described as being "beaten" by the bishop. This was the most uncomfortable portion of the book for me because, despite being about a fictional world in a time period where such treatments were unfortunately acceptable, it didn't sit well with me.

But overall, the story was thoroughly engaging and the characters were wonderful in so many ways. I found myself invested in their stories almost instantly, eager to learn where the story was going and how the problems would all be solved. The girls end up forming a secret Giant Killers club with a young boy called Jack whom they meet on an adventure into the woods. This club slowly branches out to include some of the nobles' children who live in the palace and a great many of the young kids from the village outside the castle and the rest of the kingdom.

I've always loved retellings and I found it especially fun to read this one, a mix of Sleeping Beauty and Jack and the Beanstalk blended more beautifully than I could have imagined up on my own. I was thoroughly pleased and impressed with the ending, to the point that I definitely want to get a physical copy of this one as soon as I can. Seeing as it wont be out until around summer of next year, that'll probably be a while. Briar an Jack and Rose is definitely a book to have on your radar, just keep in mind if you're giving this to a young reader that they might not know all the words.

I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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There's nothing inherently wrong with this book, it just wasn't what I was looking for (I originally thought it might be f/f but Briar and Rose are twin sisters). I love MG fairy tales but this is definitely the younger end of the spectrum- the characters are 9 years old. I also didn't care for the tense of the writing, third person present. It felt awkward to me. But the characters were charming and got up to lots of mischief and adventures, so I think young readers will enjoy this.
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