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Briar Rose (The Fairy Tale Series)

Briar Rose (The Fairy Tale Series)

4.5 52
by Jane Yolen, Terri Windling (Editor)

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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


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.

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

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Tor Fairy Tale Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.32(w) x 6.58(h) x 0.59(d)
820L (what's this?)
Age Range:
16 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Briar Rose

A Novel of the Fairy Tale Series
By Yolen, Jane

Tor Books

Copyright © 1993 Yolen, Jane
All right reserved.

"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 inunison.
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


Excerpted from Briar Rose by Yolen, Jane Copyright © 1993 by Yolen, Jane. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

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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Briar Rose 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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 :)
Brinakoch More than 1 year ago
I read this book in Jr high twice. Both times on my own for myself. I love the tale and the play on the fairy tale and the Holocaust. I bought it once and looking tout buy again.
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Rebecca and her sisters were always fascinated by their grandmother's stories. Especially Sleeping Beauty. Although her sisters eventually lost interest, Rebecca never did. Years later, when Gemma is dying, Rebecca is the one who sits and listens to her tales. Rebecca is the one who hears Gemma claim that she was Briar Rose. And it is Rebecca--now a twenty-three-year-old journalist--who will follow her grandmother's claims from their home in the US to Poland. Yolen delivers an unlikely retelling of Sleeping Beauty in this haunting novel that blends fact with fiction. The story of Sleeping Beauty weaves together with details of the Holocaust and the brutality and horrors suffered by so many in Nazi Concentration Camps. Originally published in 1988, parts of this novel are dated with outmoded technology and pre-Internet research. The tense and tone of Briar Rose build distance into the story as well effectively keeping readers at a remove for most of the novel. Although ultimately a story with a happy ending, Briar Rose is also imbued with sadness from the beginning even as Gemma tells her Sleeping Beauty story in flashbacks. This isn't a story for everyone and not a conventional retelling although elements of Sleeping Beauty do come into play with Gemma's history as Rebecca investigates it. Recommended for readers who enjoy historical fiction or are interested in World War II.
ElyasMom More than 1 year ago
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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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.
jessythebookworm More than 1 year ago
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.
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Goddess_Librarian More than 1 year ago
This introduces the horrors of the Holocaust without being too graphic. The mystery of "Briar Rose" is revealed like peeling an onion one layer at a time. After investigating, Rebecca finds out that the castle was, of course, not a castle but an extermination camp. Her grandmother's way of coping with the horror was to change it in her mind to a fairy tale - to become Briar Rose. This would be a great "chat and chew" book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
ckgc More than 1 year ago
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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angelosdaughter More than 1 year ago
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.