Cloaked by Alex Flinn

Cindy: Alex Flinn’s Beastly and A Kiss in Time are very popular in my middle school libraries and her latest romance featuring lesser known fairy tales, Cloaked (HarperTeen 2011) is sure to be as well. Let’s start with The Elves and the Shoemaker: Johnny is a shoe-repair expert working in a small shop in a high-end hotel in South Beach, Florida. Besides repairing shoes, he is a designer who needs a break into the big time. Enter Victoriana, a princess from Aloria who engages Johnny not just to repair a broken pair of shoes, but to find her missing brother who has been enchanted and is now a frog.  She gives him money and magic cloak and the fun begins. The Frog Prince story is joined by others, The Six Swans, The Fisherman and His Wife, The Golden Bird, and several more.

As Alex points out in her Author’s Note, most teens today do not know these stories unless Disney has made a movie. I always highlight the 398.2 section of my library, but Alex directs teens to a fabulous online source, SurLaLune Fairytales,  for these tales. I only discovered this site recently from a link on Facebook and it is a great place to encourage teens to gain some cultural literacy and to find other books based on their favorite fairy tales. This year I’m going to pair a book from the 398.2’s with my fractured fairy tale fiction booktalks. I’ll let you know how that goes.

Teen girls in particular will enjoy the many happy endings in this book, but I have to admit that one of my favorite parts (besides the Miami, Key Largo and Key West settings that I visited last spring) was the shoe quotes. Lynn and I both have shoe addictions so there was natural appeal here.

A lie can travel halfway ’round the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.
–Attributed to Mark Twain

The shoe that fits one person pinches another.
–Carl Jung

Lynn:  I listened to this entertaining book on audio (Brilliance 2011) early this summer and its funny goofiness suited the relaxed feel of the warm sunny days.  I loved spotting the various fairy tales and Flinn’s clever takes on them along with the humor had me laughing through the whole book.  I couldn’t resist the mix of talking animals – especially the swans – magical creatures, silly jokes and sweet romance.  It was fun to have one of these fairy-tale twists told from a guy’s point of view too!  And then there was the whole shoe theme – a major addiction of mine!  Check this charming book out for the perfect end-of-summer read (or listen – the audio’s terrific!).

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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