Briar Rose (The Fairy Tale Series)

( 50 )

Overview

A powerful retelling of Sleeping Beauty that is "heartbreaking and heartwarming."

An American Library Association "100 Best Books for Teens"

An American Library Association "Best Books for Young Adults"

Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma's stories about Briar Rose. But a promise Rebecca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey to uncover ...

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Overview

A powerful retelling of Sleeping Beauty that is "heartbreaking and heartwarming."

An American Library Association "100 Best Books for Teens"

An American Library Association "Best Books for Young Adults"

Ever since she was a child, Rebecca has been enchanted by her grandmother Gemma's stories about Briar Rose. But a promise Rebecca makes to her dying grandmother will lead her on a remarkable journey to uncover the truth of Gemma's astonishing claim: I am Briar Rose. A journey that will lead her to unspeakable brutality and horror. But also to redemption and hope.

A powerful and moving novel that deftly blends the legend of Sleeping Beauty with the historical tragedy of the Holocaust. After her grandmother's death, a young American woman struggles to uncover the truth behind the old woman's past. The trail eventually leads to Europe and the darkest days of WWII.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Terrifically moving.” —The Washington Post

“Yolen takes the story of Briar Rose and links it to the Holocaust—a far from obvious connection that she makes perfectly convincing...Only a writer as good as Yolen could bring it off.” —Publishers Weekly

“Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, Yolen’s novel is a compelling reminder of the Holocaust as well as a contemporary tale of secrets and romance.”—Booklist

“Showcases Yolen’s skill at transforming the real world into a realm of fantasy.” —Library Journal

Library Journal - Booksmack!
This column began with one Holocaust story and ends with another, originally published in 1992, that is arguably the most memorable of Terry Windling's "Fairy Tales" series (Tor). Becca's Grandmother Gemma has always told the story of Briar Rose, Sleeping Beauty, insisting that she is the princess who was awakened from slumber with a kiss. After her Gemma's death, Becca seeks the truth and learns that her grandmother survived the Holocaust and nearly died in the Chelmno concentration camp in Poland. One Josef Potocki saved Becca with a "kiss" after she was gassed. Yolen's interpretation was ground-breaking both for its focus on the experience of Polish Jews and for its handling of Josef's homosexuality. A can't-miss book. Angelina Benedetti, "35 Going on 13", Booksmack!, 12/2/10
Sally Estes
Part of the Fairy Tale series created by Terri Windling, Yolen's recasting of the Sleeping Beauty tale is not fantasy; rather, it is a story evocatively grounded in the horror of the Holocaust. Ever since Rebecca was a toddler, she and her two older sisters had heard a unique version of Sleeping Beauty over and over again from their beloved grandmother, Gemma, who insists that she is Briar Rose. Alternating chapters advance the fairy tale and Rebecca's experiences in trying to fulfill her promise made on Gemma's death bed to find the castle in the sleeping woods, which Gemma leaves to Rebecca. Rebecca's investigation takes her to her grandmother's native Poland, from which emerges a tale of Nazi brutality, gas chambers, partisan activity, courage, guilt, and love. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, Yolen's novel is a compelling reminder of the Holocaust as well as a contemporary tale of secrets and romance.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765342300
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 3/15/2002
  • Series: Fairy Tales Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 80,308
  • Age range: 16 - 18 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.18 (w) x 7.62 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Meet the Author

Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen is one of the most distinguished and successful authors for young readers and adults in the country. She is the author of more than 200 books—including Sister Light, Sister Dark, Owl Moon, and the immensely popular The Devil's Arithmetic. Her books have won awards including the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, the Jewish Book Award, and two Christopher Medals. She lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts.

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Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

"Gemma, tell your story again," Shana begged, putting her arms around her grandmother and breathing in that special smell of talcum and lemon that seemed to belong only to her.

"Which one?" Gemma asked, chopping the apples in the wooden bowl.

"You know," Shana said.

"Yes—you know," Sylvia added. Like her sister, she crowded close and let the talcum-lemon smell almost over-whelm her.

Baby Rebecca in the high chair banged her spoon against the cup. "Seepin Boot. Seepin Boot."

Shana made a face. Even when she had been little herself she'd never spoken in baby talk. Only full sentences; her mother swore to it.

"Seepin Boot." Gemma smiled. "All right."

The sisters nodded and stepped back a pace each, as if the story demanded their grandmother's face, not just her scent.

"Once upon a time," Gemma began, the older two girls whispering the opening with her, "which is all times and no times but not the very best of times, there was a castle. And in it lived a king who wanted nothing more in the world than a child.

" 'From your lips to God's ears,' the queen said each time the king talked of a baby. But the years went by and they had none."

"None, none, none," sang out Rebecca, banging her spoon on the cup with each word.

"Shut up!" Shana and Sylvia said in unison.

Gemma took the spoon and cup away and gave Rebecca a slice of apple instead. "Now one day, finally and at last and about time, the queen went to bed and gave birth to a baby girl with a crown of red hair." Gemma touched her own hair in which strands of white curled around the red like barbed wire. "The child's face was as beautiful as a wildflower and so the king named her…"

"Briar Rose," Sylvia and Shana breathed.

"Briar Rose," repeated Rebecca, only not nearly so clearly, her mouth being quite full of apple.

Copyright ©1992 by Jane Yolen

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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 50 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(36)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2002

    Important Message

    When you look at the true fairy tales, they were often horrible and scary. The children's stories were often sanitized, friendly versions of much darker tales. Using that model, Jane Yolen has created a masterpiece of Holocaust literature. Very seldom does an author use the vehicle of a children's story to tell an important tale such as this. Yolen should be commended for having the courage to create characters we feel for. It also shows us that the Holocaust was not just a Jewish event, that other groups were murdered by Hitler's madmen. And that is why we must not forget. This novel goes a long way toward helping keep this message alive.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2011

    Amazing!

    I read this book as an Honors English 10 student. A lot of people in my class didn't like it (so I don't know what their problem is) but it was a very good book, easy to read, and the story opens your eyes to a few of the horrors of the Holocaust. I know it isn't really a possibility, but I would love to read a sequel :)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 10, 2013

    still a book that is on my book shelf more then 10 years after r

    still a book that is on my book shelf more then 10 years after reading it for the first time. one i would still pick up and would recommend to anyone who enjoys a good read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2010

    Amazing!!

    I absolutely loved this book. At first I wasn't sure because it seemed to little to contain much of a story, but I was very much wrong. The story really captivated what it was like during the Holcaust. It definetly made me want to find out more about the depressing subject. I would reccomend the book to anyone.

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  • Posted May 9, 2010

    Excellent read!

    I loved this book!! I would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction, especially of the WWII era. I loved how she intwined the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty with the story. The story line was good--surprises are in store.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2010

    A beautiful retelling of a classic fairy tale

    I first read this book in High School and could not put it down and now I remember why. It's a mix of history and fantasy blended together to form the mysterious past of a departed loved one. The subplots are ordinary and predictable but the storyline is quite beautiful and consuming.

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  • Posted October 10, 2009

    An excellent read with a different perspective on WWII and the Nazis

    This was a selection of my book club and we all really liked this book. It's a quick but good read and seems to be based on the actuality of life in WWII vis-a-vis the Nazis. It gave us a different perspective of the effect on Germany even years after the war. We'd all recommend this one.

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  • Posted January 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Retold Fairytale Set Against the Backdrop of the Holocaust

    In "Briar Rose", Jane Yolen retells the story of "Sleeping Beauty" with the Holocaust as its backdrop. The tale is at once heartbreaking and ultimately, heartwarming. The Prince is a most unusual hero, and many of us who are family historians and work with geneaology will identify with Rebecca's quest to discover the truth behind her grandmother's fairytale story of her early life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 15, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Yay!

    I loved this book! It was beautifully written and the story was just so cute and addicting. Good for fans of Holocaust literature and people just looking for a book thta will take them away. Just lovely. I absolutely loved it! The only part I would change was the unnecessary romance bewteen Gemma and Stan. This book was magical!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2007

    A reviewer

    When I picked up this book I thought it was going to be just another fun retelling of on of my favorite fairy tales. In fact, it is a story told by a holocaust survivor, whose life mirrors that of the tale of Sleeping Beauty. This was a wonderfully written insight into concentration camps and the horrors that really happened. A must read!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2007

    Sadly, Very Disappointing

    I happened upon this book one day and it made me really excited. I LOVE retold fairy tales and learning about the Holocaust. And here was a book that had both! The beginning started out a bit slow, but it was still enjoyable. I thought the whole 'first part' called Home, from Becca's perspective, was good. But once it got to Castle, I hated it. Oh my word, I had to force myself to read it because I hate not finishing books. The whole thing was just a load of nothing, especially the raids. They had absolutely nothing to with the story as a whole. And, in the end, Becca found out hardly anything about her grandmother. No, this book is not powerful, nor is it moving. In fact, I was deeply disappointed about this book. I've never read any of Yolen's work and now I probably won't.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2007

    I loved this book!!!!

    This book is so wonderful I just loved it. it was enchanted and it made me wonder more it was just wonderful... Thank you for writing it and getting it published so that everyone could read it .. It's amazing!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2006

    Briar Rose

    This is a powerful, moving story, i loved it.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2006

    Sleeping Beauty got a Wake up Call

    I rate this book four and a half stars, but that is not an option. It was extremely gripping in the beginning, and then when the end drew nearer, it started to bore me a little bit, and the end disappointed me, leaving me with so much higher expectations, but I guess the point was to make a 'happily ever after' ending that was not a perfect one, and in that case the book was an outstanding mixture of fairytale and historic occurences.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2006

    How can you combine a fairy tale and the Holocaust?

    I wondered that when I purchased this book, and the author successfully does just that. I couldn't put this book down, i read it in about two days. It is a quick read, says for ages 13 and up and I agree. If you are a history buff or love fairy tales, you will LOVE this book. I can't explain it...you have to read it yourself!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2006

    WOW!

    This book (a fairy tale come to life) was so interesting and moving I couldn't put it down! Some parts of it are sad, especially during the holocaust, but it isn't too depressing for those who don't like depressing stories. This book kept you going right along with the main character, Becca, who is trying to find out about her grandmother's past. You won't be able to guess what Becca finds. I loved it!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2006

    one of the few books I have ever enjoyed

    This book was really interesting. It's about a young woman, Rebecca, who is determined to find out about her grandmother's past. And her only clues are the collection of papers and stuff in an old box found in her grandmother's wardrobe. After draining every last drop of information she can from the boxes contents, she goes to Poland to learn the rest of the story if she can. I loved the way the author portrayed the story of sleeping beauty in this book. I liked the feeling it gave me when I began to understand how Gemma, Rebecca's grandmother, really was Briar Rose. I think that whoever reads this book will really enjoy it, even though there are some more inappropiate parts that I, personally, would rather forget.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2003

    Absolutely Positively WONDERFUL!!!

    This book was and still is wonderful, Its very impactful,it leaves you questioning...this is the side of the holocaust I'm happy was written about,its a fabulous book that I recommend for anyone

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2003

    An in-dept holocaust novel

    This book is quite interesting. I've always been intrigued by the holocaust and WW2, becuase my grandfather had faught in it. Briar Rose is an in-look sight at how horrible the holocaust was. This book caught me with it's creative cover and descriptive text. You'll love it if your a fan of historical fiction or Jane Yolen, as did I.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 14, 2003

    This is a great book!

    Briar Rose is about this twenty-three year old woman who makes a promise to her dying grandmother, and is puzzled by her grandmother's last words.' I am Briar Rose...' Could this statement be connected to her grandmother's favorite fairy tale, Briar Rose/Sleeping Beauty? Then Rebecca and her family find a mysterious box, hidden away for years, that belonged to her grandmother. The contents of the box make Rebecca wonder if her grandmother's dying words have truth in them... This novel is both dramatic, and historical as well, with a twist of suspense. I enjoyed this book very much, and I think that you will too.

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