The Silver Bowl
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The Silver Bowl

4.0 25
by Diane Stanley
     
 

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Unwanted at home, Molly becomes a humble scullery maid for the King of Westria. She arrives at the castle with no education, no manners, and a very disturbing secret: She sees visions that always come true.

In time, Molly begins polishing the castle's fine silver pieces, which include one priceless royal treasure: the king's great ceremonial hand basin.

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Overview

Unwanted at home, Molly becomes a humble scullery maid for the King of Westria. She arrives at the castle with no education, no manners, and a very disturbing secret: She sees visions that always come true.

In time, Molly begins polishing the castle's fine silver pieces, which include one priceless royal treasure: the king's great ceremonial hand basin. But whenever she touches it, the silver warms beneath her fingers and the bowl's designs swirl into a vision that only she can see. A dreaded curse has befallen each generation of the royal family—and now it threatens the handsome Prince Alaric.

Together with her friends Tobias and Winifred, Molly must protect the prince and destroy the curse. Could a less likely champion be found to save the Kingdom of Westria?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A versatile and inventive raconteur, Stanley (Bella at Midnight) nimbly weaves intrigue and fantasy into this richly layered story set in medieval times. Sent to work as a scullery maid at the castle, high-spirited Molly bids farewell to her mother, who tells Molly that she has inherited her ability to see visions predicting the future. She also gives her daughter a necklace that Molly's silversmith grandfather had "put some good magic into," which she predicts Molly might need. Polishing an intricately patterned silver hand basin belonging to the king, Molly hears a voice urging her to "Listen!" and she sees in the bowl scenes from the past, including one depicting the bowl's creation by her grandfather, who was forced to bestow on it curses that have plagued the royal family. With crisp pacing and enticing end-of-chapter teasers, Stanley gradually reveals the intriguing story of the curse, which Molly must break in order to save a kind prince who's the sole surviving direct heir to the throne. That task and the Molly's rescue of the prince are relayed with suspense and some unanticipated plot spirals. Ages 10–up. (Apr.)
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Adventure, magic, subtle romance, betrayal, and monstrous curses take this book far beyond the typical scullery-maid-makes-good tale. Peasant girl Molly sometimes sees things before they happen, a fine enough reason for her unloving and poverty-stricken father to get rid of her. At age seven, she is abandoned at the door of Dethemere Castle, where she finds work in the kitchen. After years of hard labor, "Gentleman Servant" Thomas takes her under his wing, promoting her to silver polisher, where she is tasked with shining the most beautiful, intricately designed bowl she has ever seen. The minute she touches it, she is filled with intense warmth and sees visions of the demise of the royal family. The rumors of a curse are true. It's becoming more and more powerful, and only she can stop it from destroying the royals. Stanley blends historical fiction and fantasy seamlessly, and her clear, rich language envelops and transports readers. Molly's relationships with handsome Prince Alaric and the kind-hearted stable boy are textured and layered with emotion and dutiful devotion. The protagonist's no-nonsense attitude is balanced by her big heart and a sweet, sharp sense of humor, making her a heroine readers will relate to and cheer for to the satisfying end.—Mandy Lawrence, Fowler Middle School, Frisco, TX
Kirkus Reviews

Veteran Stanley concocts a delicious blend of familiar fairy-tale motifs and intriguing, well-rounded characters to create an engaging fantasy.

Young Molly's mother is ill and her father uncaring, so she learns early how to take care of herself. Her resourcefulness pays off when she goes into service at the palace. Resilience and intelligence allow her to thrive, and they stand her in good stead when she gets swept up into a series of dangerous adventures. Molly encounters an enchanted artifact that reveals (only to her) the threat that hangs over the royal family. Aided by Tobias, a fellow servant who befriended her from the first, Molly rescues young Prince Alaric from certain death. The three then flee the castle and face a series of challenges both mundane and magical before Alaric can claim the throne. Stanley's writing is smooth and compelling, making her characters come to life and ensuring that readers can easily follow the twists and turns of the inventive plot. While there is indeed a villain as well as some not-so-nice characters, Stanley's nuanced portraits encourage readers to consider motivation as well as actions. Touches of humor lighten the tone at times, while suspenseful sequences heighten the tension.

A most worthy and enjoyable entry in the "feisty female" fantasy genre. (Fantasy. 10-14)

Booklist (starred review)
Praise for Bella at Midnight:Stanley subtly twists strands of the Cinderella story until it’s something quite new and fine.“
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“[T]he pacing is masterful, with new information and character development doled out in exactly the right doses, intercut with thrilling escapes and clever plots...a satisfying yarn of loyalty rewarded and mutual understanding gained.”
Booklist
"An accomplished storyteller, Stanley uses her singular gifts to craft a remarkable historical fantasy. Combining carefully chosen details of setting with a richly realized fantasy premise, Stanley succeeds in creating a believable world large enough to accommodate not only menace and evil but also loyalty, enduring friendship, and love."
The Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books
“[T]he pacing is masterful, with new information and character development doled out in exactly the right doses, intercut with thrilling escapes and clever plots...a satisfying yarn of loyalty rewarded and mutual understanding gained.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“[T]he pacing is masterful, with new information and character development doled out in exactly the right doses, intercut with thrilling escapes and clever plots...a satisfying yarn of loyalty rewarded and mutual understanding gained.”
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"[T]he pacing is masterful, with new information and character development doled out in exactly the right doses, intercut with thrilling escapes and clever plots...a satisfying yarn of loyalty rewarded and mutual understanding gained."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061575433
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/26/2011
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
1,009,173
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile:
700L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Diane Stanley is the author and illustrator of many award-winning books for young readers. Her novels include the critically acclaimed Bella at Midnight, a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and an ALA Booklist Editors' Choice, The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy, The Mysterious Matter of I. M. Fine, and A Time Apart. Well known as the author and illustrator of award-winning picture-book biographies, she is the recipient of the Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children and the Washington Post-Children's Book Guild Nonfiction Award for the body of her work.

Ms. Stanley has also written and illustrated numerous picture books, including three creatively imagined fairy tales:The Giant and the Beanstalk, Goldie and the Three Bears, and Rumpelstiltskin's Saughter. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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