by Matt Phelan
216 pages / 2016
This is Snow White inventively reimagined as a 1920s Depression-era American tale. The “king” is a stock trader who has managed to survive the stock market crash. The stepmother is still a queen, but this time of the Ziegfield Follies, a popular Broadway show. The mirror is now a stock ticker, and the seven dwarves are seven street-smart kids. Prince Charming? Well, I shouldn’t give too much away!
Though over 200 pages, this is a very quick read, because it is much more pictures than text – several times there are stretches going on for pages, where there are no words at all.
I first thought it would be hard to pick exactly who’d be the ideal audience. Fairytales are typically for children, but this seemed too somber to attract little ones – done in a black and white, it has a dark, noir style…all but for the last few pages with their happily-ever-after full-color conclusion. Some of the historical touches only adults would pick up on, but how many of them would pick it up? It’s listed as for teens at my local library, but our Christian school library also got it, and there it seems more of a tween hit – my own tweens have taken it out a few times already.
There are no real cautions to offer – if a child is old enough to read the original, then they will be old enough to read this one. There is a drop or two of blood here and there, but no gore. The worst is probably the pig or cow heart we see in full color at one point (in keeping with the original story). And there are no language concerns either.
This is an inventive, and very intriguing tale, done with style. Adults can’t help but appreciate it, but it’s really tweens who will most enjoy it.