Sleeping Beauty: A mid-century fairy tale
David Roberts and Lynn Roberts-Maloney
The super-talented brother and sister team, David Roberts (illustrator) and Lynn Roberts-Maloney have created another in their classy series of classic fairy tales, setting it in the 1950s initially, and then one thousand years in the future.
Now I’m hugely enthusiastic about re-workings/reinventions of fairy tales and traditional tales and had high expectations of this one – expectations that were more than met.
We first see Annabel in the 1950s as a science fiction loving young girl with a fascination about the future, living with her two aunts Flora and Rosalind, completely oblivious to the curse that had been placed upon her during her first birthday celebrations by a jealous and malicious witch, Morwenna.
The curse – that she will be pricked by a needle and die before her sixteenth birthday – is kept at bay by her aunts with the death sentence commuted to a thousand year sleep.
We then return to the time leading up to the all-important birthday when a mysterious visitor leaves a present for Annabel on the doorstep: a present that results in a pricked finger as foretold by Morwenna,
who indeed has delivered the gift, whereupon the young girl falls into a deep sleep.
Both Rosalind and Flora take transformative action; the former becoming an ever-growing rose bush …
which forms a protective shield around the house; the latter (having written down her ward’s story and calling it Sleeping Beauty) becomes an ever-shining light that guards Annabel while she sleeps.
Fast forward one thousand years to another young girl, Zoe, with an interest in all things past and in particular the history of the giant rose tree. Researching in the library (hooray they still exist!) she comes upon a copy of Sleeping Beauty …
and discovers its publication date – exactly 1000 years ago to the very day.
Can she finally break that dark spell and release the Sleeping Beauty?
Elegant design and superbly detailed illustrations grace every page of this wonderful book and the story itself is a brilliantly clever fusion of old and new.
A splendid gift to give on a birthday, at Christmas or indeed any time of the year: it’s a book to return to again and again.