Toads and Diamonds

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Overview

Diribani has come to the village well to get water for her family's scant meal of curry and rice. She never expected to meet a goddess there. Yet she is granted a remarkable gift: Flowers and precious jewels drop from her lips whenever she speaks.

It seems only right to Tana that the goddess judged her kind, lovely stepsister worthy of such riches. And when she encounters the goddess, she is not surprised to find herself speaking snakes and ...

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Diribani comes to the village well to get water for her family's scant meal of curry and rice. She never expected to meet a goddess there. Yet she is granted a remarkable gift: ... Flowers and precious jewels drop from her lips whenever she speaks. Tana thinks it only right that her stepsister be judged as kind and worthy of such riches. When Tana encounters the goddess she is not surprised to find herself speaking snakes and toads as a reward. Blessings and curses are never so clear as they seem. As thousands die from a plague spread by rats, the sisters' fates hang in the balance, and each struggles to understand her gift. Willit bring her wisdom, good fortune, love. . .or death? Green binding with gold lettering. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Diribani has come to the village well to get water for her family's scant meal of curry and rice. She never expected to meet a goddess there. Yet she is granted a remarkable gift: Flowers and precious jewels drop from her lips whenever she speaks.

It seems only right to Tana that the goddess judged her kind, lovely stepsister worthy of such riches. And when she encounters the goddess, she is not surprised to find herself speaking snakes and toads as a reward.

Blessings and curses are never so clear as they might seem, however. Diribani’s newfound wealth brings her a prince—and an attempt on her life. Tana is chased out of the village because the province's governor fears snakes, yet thousands are dying of a plague spread by rats. As the sisters' fates hang in the balance, each struggles to understand her gift. Will it bring her wisdom, good fortune, love . . . or death?

Toads and Diamonds is a 2011 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in a lightly fictionalized India, Tomlinson’s retelling of the Perrault fairy tale gains new resonance in a culture where reptiles are honored. Stepsisters Diribani, 15, and Tana, 16, are struggling to keep their household together after their father’s murder. He was a jewel merchant, and Tana hopes to follow in his footsteps. But these dreams are swept out of reach when Diribani comes back from the local well bringing not water but a gift from the snake goddess, Naghali—gems and flowers that drop from her lips when she speaks. The girls’ mother quickly sends Tana to the well, too, but she returns with an even stranger gift of snakes, frogs, and toads. The awe over Diribani’s gift from people both humble and mighty is predictable, but it’s refreshing to see the matter-of-fact welcome that Tana’s snakes receive from the townspeople. Tomlinson (The Swan Maiden) does not oversimplify in this well-told tale; human discord and the harmony of nature are entwined with simplicity and elegance as the girls travel, physically and emotionally, to places they had never imagined. Ages 12-up. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
* “A memorable novel . . . Tomlinson is a master craftsman. This beautifully embroidered adventure is well worth the effort.” —Booklist, starred review

“Tomlinson does not oversimplify in this well-told tale; human discord and the harmony of nature are entwined with simplicity and elegance as the girls travel, physically and emotionally, to places they had never imagined.” —Publishers Weekly

“A great read for fans of fairy-tale retellings, this book should be very popular with older tweens and teens.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Tomlinson creates a rich story with opulent visuals that make the teens’ world come to life. Readers can feel the hard jewels in Diribani’s mouth, and taste the dirt and dust as Tana flees. Best of all, Tomlinson creates a truly remarkable bond between the girls, obliterating the trite stepsister stereotype.” School Library Journal

Children's Literature - Uma Krishnaswami
Tomlinson (The Swan Maiden) retells the Perrault fairytale of two sisters whose gifts could equally be regarded as blessings and curses. Tomlinson sets the story in a fictionalized kingdom that owes many of its elements to India during the Mughal period. Colorful geography can be found here in plenty, with elephants, mahouts, cobras, temple groves, and the scents of sandal and jasmine. Thankfully, the fantasy outshines the exoticism, so that the overwhelming impression is not of India but of a well-crafted fairytale world. In it, a goddess-worshiping, vegetarian culture is ruled by an austere, meat-eating, monotheistic one, with sisters Diribani and Tana at the center of the story. Each of them encounters the goddess Naghali by the village well, an inciting incident that remains true to the Perrault tale. As a result, Diribani begins to let gems and flowers fall from her lips with every word she utters, while Tana starts to speak with snakes and toads falling from her mouth. The story spins out in third person narrative with the sisters as alternating viewpoint characters. While Diribani is taken to the ladies' court as a guest of the crown, Tana is sent to live by a sacred well. Lush settings, a calendar with animal-named months, a classic premise, ancient stepwells, and a few surprising turns of story combine to make this an interesting addition to the fantasy bookshelf. Reviewer: Uma Krishnaswami
VOYA - Melissa Moore
Stepsisters Diribani and Tana have their individual qualities—beauty, kindness, a love for each other—and both are blessed by one of the Twelve, the goddess Naghali-ji, who appears to each girl in disguise. The lovely Diribani is given a gift—when she speaks, flowers and gems are produced from her words—yet is taken (ostensibly for her own safety) into the care of Prince Zahid. More pragmatic Tana is given the supposed curse of speaking frogs and snakes and is sent to live on the outskirts of town because the region's governor has a morbid fear of snakes. While Diribani languishes in the castle, pining for a prince she can never have, Tana experiences the seamier side of life and soon learns of the plague that is devastating the countryside. Tomlinson takes a lesser-known story from Charles Perrault and sets it in fifteenth-century India. Chapters alternate between the girls' points-of-view, and both voices are authentic. Ranks in society, problems with wealth and power, and even an alternative religion are explored in a vividly imagined world. Tomlinson's intent is admirable but falls short of the goal—secondary characters are easily confused and less-fully developed, Diribani's voice especially becomes tiresome, and the reader is at a loss to understand why Tana would be "cursed" when she is just as likeable as her sister. The last sixty pages bring their two separate story lines into a momentous conclusion where their problems are solved almost too neatly. Reviewer: Melissa Moore
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—This is an impressive reimagining of Perrault's classic tale, set in precolonial India. Stepsisters Diribani and Tana are on the edge of poverty when they are blessed and cursed by the goddess Naghali-ji. Diribani, the beautiful and polite one, speaks flowers and jewels every time a sound is uttered from her perfect lips, while Tana, often rude, speaks toads and snakes. Soon Diribani is taken in by a handsome prince who seeks to protect her from those who would use her gift for ill. Tana's fate is not so comfortable, as she is forced out of the village before she is caught by the authorities. Tomlinson creates a rich story with opulent visuals that make the teens' world come to life. Readers can feel the hard jewels in Diribani's mouth, and taste the dirt and dust as Tana flees. Best of all, Tomlinson creates a truly remarkable bond between the girls, obliterating the trite stepsister stereotype. The text may be challenging at times, but this extraordinary entry in the retellings genre is definitely worth its weight in diamonds. Fans of Shannon Hale and Robin McKinley will eat it up.—Lisa Marie Williams, East Gwillimbury Public Library, Holland Landing, Ontario
Kirkus Reviews
Charles Perrault published the tale in 1695, and Robert D. San Souci and Jerry Pinkney brought it to the American South in The Talking Eggs (1988). Now here is a fleshed-out version of this folk motif that tells the story of two stepsisters and their fate-changing encounter with a goddess. One girl speaks with gems and flowers, the other with toads and snakes-gift or curse, depending on your viewpoint. Tropes of the genre are nicely twisted: Both girls are nicer than in the short versions, the worldbuilding has shallow roots in Mughal India and the ending is much kinder to the toad-speaking sister. The writing is fluid and the retelling clever. Third-person narration alternates between the two girls, allowing for a broad view of the land, culture and customs (including great descriptions of clothing) as well as the girls' relationships. The story's climax is a lulu, while the resolution is satisfying, if a little anticlimactic. A great read for fans of fairy-tale retellings, this book should be very popular with older tweens and teens. An author's note contextualizes the telling. (Fairy tale. 12-16)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805089684
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 3/30/2010
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Age range: 12 - 18 Years
  • Lexile: 820L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Heather Tomlinson has taught English in Paris and French in the U.S. She lives on a houseboat in southern California with her engineer husband , her baby boy, and cats X, Y, and Z.

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Read an Excerpt

Toads and Diamonds


By Heather Tomlinson

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2010 Heather Tomlinson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-2233-3


CHAPTER 1

Diribani


Diribani ran toward the stepwell. Squinting against the glare, she splashed through the road's deep ruts, pink skirts slapping her calves, her long black braid thumping her shoulders. One hand steadied the empty clay jar on her head. Mud sucked at her bare feet, but the rest of her was dry for a change. Overnight, the goddess Bhagiya had driven her tiger chariot across the heavens, chasing away her sister Naghali's rain snakes. Diribani didn't mind the mud when the fresh-washed sun beamed down on her.

Each panting breath brought rich new smells: wet earth, growing plants, a hint of curried lentils from a farmer's hut. Diribani's empty stomach growled at that, but her stepsister, Tana, couldn't cook their midday meal until Diribani returned with the water. Although their courtyard well served for washing and cleaning, its water had a sour taste. And Diribani had forgotten to fill the drinking jar at the sacred well this morning. Again.

Her stepmother had reminded her that a young woman of fifteen, old enough to be trusted with two gold dowry bangles, shouldn't waste time drawing animal pictures in the sand to entertain the neighbor children. Since Ma Hiral wasn't present to scold her for baring her legs like a sweeper, Diribani hiked her dress wrap above her knees and ran faster.

She hopped over small puddles and waded through others with a heron's long stride. Lucky spotted frogs leaped away on either side. Then a stirring in the soupy mud alerted her to an upside-down turtle, struggling to right itself.

"How'd that happen, little sister?" With one bare foot, Diribani flipped the turtle over. She waited to make sure it wasn't injured. Slowly, the turtle got under way, its four stubby legs swimming as much as walking.

"Laaaaa-zy girl," a high voice trilled.

"Who's there?" Diribani spun around, almost dropping the pot. "Show yourself." Behind her, the road was clear to Gurath's town walls and Lotus Gate. Ahead, a small boy led a cow.

"Lazy." The taunting voice came closer. "Lazy girl, girl, girl."

Yellow flashed in a clump of reeds. Diribani held tight to the clay jar—their last one, for she'd broken the others—and bent at the waist to peer into the weedy tangle. A piltreet's bright-black eye stared at her. White wings flipped; the golden throat-patch quivered. "Lazy, lazy."

"Peace to you, too, piltreet-ji," Diribani said. "I trust you spent a pleasant holiday abroad? It was very wet here."

The piltreet whistled. "Lazy."

"What, is Governor Alwar paying birds to tattle on honest Gurath folk?" Diribani cocked her head. "His livery does become you, sir."

The piltreet flew to another reed. It bent under his weight, swaying over a ditch full of cloudy brown water. Diribani's fingers itched to capture the picture he made, this cheeky creature and his dancing reflection. Once, before she'd had to sell her paints, she could have mixed the exact shades of his yellow and white feathers, the rice shoots pulsing green in the flooded field behind him, the blue sky overhead.

However insulting, the piltreet's song expressed the joy everyone felt when the rains ended. No more sitting inside, watching drips eat away their mud-brick walls. No more fighting the black mold that furred every surface, no more grieving past losses and fretting about the future. Especially for her family. Together, Diribani and Tana had gone over their plan again and again. Ma Hiral wasn't convinced, but they couldn't wait any longer for her approval. The time had come to act.

During the cool, dry season after the rains, the port town of Gurath would swell with travelers arriving by ship and caravan, eager to trade for fine cloth and spices, metalwork and gems. As the skies cleared, market tents would unfold like flowers between the guild halls and the customs house. Vendors would set out all manner of delicious food. Diribani licked her lips, thinking of sliced pinkfruit, fried dough sprinkled with cardamom and ginger sugar, spicy fritters dipped in tamarind sauce. Then a loud voice banished all thought of the treats they could no longer afford.

"Look, Chihra, someone left the barn door open."

Diribani straightened to find her way blocked by a group of servant girls from the overseers' quarter. Like her, they carried water jars on their heads; mud daubed their bare feet. But instead of short blouses and draped wraps in bright colors, the traditional dress worn by women who worshiped the twelve, these girls wore Believer garb. The emperor's stern religion prescribed the flared white coats and close-fitting cotton trousers to cover a woman's flesh from throat to ankle, be she princess or laundry maid. Diribani felt sorry for the girls encased in such plain fabric, adorned only by the yellow ribbons fluttering from their long sleeves.

She recognized the two in front and offered the customary greeting, though they were unlikely to return it. Converts to the invaders' faith acted as if they themselves had melded the Hundred Kingdoms into an empire. "Peace to you, Chihra, Gulrang."

The round-faced girl, Chihra, surprised her by nodding. The other one, a tall, lean young woman a year older than Diribani, folded her arms over her chest. Her water jar remained perfectly balanced on her head. "Did the cow speak?" she drawled. "Move aside, hay-breath."

"Come on, Gulrang." The shorter girl tugged on her friend's sleeve. "No more trouble, my lady said."

"Not at all," Gulrang sneered. Intent on Diribani, she didn't notice the white mare and rider behind her, or the horse's interest in her water jug. "I wouldn't trouble myself to spit on the dirt-eating— Help!" When horse lips smacked near her ear, Gulrang shrieked, lost her balance, and stumbled into a puddle. Both hands flew up to catch the full jar before it toppled off her head. Water sloshed out to splatter her white coat.

The mare shook her mane in alarm as the previously convenient water jug ducked out of reach.

"Peace to you, Trader Kalyan." Diribani tried to keep her amusement from showing in her face. She reached her free hand to the mare. "And Jasmine."

"Peace, Mina Diribani," the young man said pleasantly, as if he hadn't guided his mount into Diribani's tormentors on purpose. "Ladies."

Chihra shot Gulrang an alarmed look. Without spilling a drop from her water jar, she dipped her knees. "Please excuse us, sir. We were just taking our leave."

"Then I'll wish you all a good day." His smile brought an answering simper to Chihra's round face. The other girls giggled behind their hands as they followed her.

Not Gulrang. Her back to the horse and rider, she glared at Diribani. "Until tomorrow," she said.

To an outsider, it might not have sounded alarming. Diribani understood she would face a reckoning the next time they met, but it was worth it to see haughty Gulrang outfaced by a horse.

The servant girl flounced after her companions, back straight and bony hips swaying under the flared white coat. The extra flourish in her walk was for Kalyan's benefit, Diribani was sure. The young trader and his mare were marketplace favorites. Occupied with his father's errands, Kalyan would still make time to let a child stroke Jasmine's soft nose, give a stranger directions, or exchange remarks about the weather with the porters at the customs house. Their two families might have been rivals in the gem- trading business, but Diribani's father had often held up Trader Nikhat's children as models of good behavior.

Jasmine whuffled over Diribani's palm. Glancing down, she realized her dress wrap was still hiked above her calves. Kalyan's older sister, Hima, would never be caught so in public. "Your family is well?" she asked, holding Kalyan's gaze as she surreptitiously let down her skirts. "Your mother and sisters?"

"All fine, praise the twelve," he said, then grinned. "Frantic, of course, since Prince Zahid's ship just landed after a voyage abroad."

"His Highness must be anxious to return to the palace in Fanjandibad if he's willing to push a caravan through these conditions." Diribani waved at the road's deep ruts and standing water.

"I suppose so. Father said the governor's people didn't expect him for another week. Mother's beside herself."

"The royal ladies will be visiting your house before they set off?"

"We hope so. You know how it is: Dress up and wait." Kalyan tugged on his embroidered sash. He wore court fashion, Diribani noticed, though not, of course, in Believer white. His coat was a charcoal gray over close-fitting trousers, his sash worked in metallic thread, silver and gold, in a geometric design. "They'll probably ask us to bring jewels to them at the fort. But my mother wants the house, the inventory, and all of us polished and ready, just in case."

"Oh, they're likely to call on you," Diribani assured him. "My father used to tell us that Trader Nikhat had the best selection besides ..." She faltered. Besides us was no longer true. Or, at least, not until Tana's work bore fruit. "In all Tenth Province," she finished.

"We do have some fine stones this season," Kalyan said, as if he hadn't noticed the awkward pause. His expression grew serious. "May I offer our family's condolences, Diribani? Your father's passing leaves a great hole in Gurath. We were all so sorry to hear the news."

"Thank you, Kalyan." Diribani patted the mare's neck, combing the silky mane with her fingers. Tears pricked her eyes, but she wouldn't cry in the road. "I don't know what I would have done without Ma Hiral and Tana."

"Er ..." The young man coughed. "Speaking of Mina Tana, did she happen to mention—"

"My sister's in excellent health," Diribani interrupted. She touched Kalyan's hand in warning as two older women passed them.

He continued in trader-talk, tapping her wrist. Transaction completed?

Diribani glanced around. The women lingered within earshot, but their backs were safely turned.

Unknown value. More study required, she signaled back, and withdrew her hand. "Ma Hiral is improving," she said aloud, in case the women were listening. Of course they were! Nikhat's son conversing with Javerikh's daughter? What a delicious tidbit of gossip, even if their speculation completely missed the mark. Diribani liked the friendly young trader, but her sister, Tana, would have made ten trips to the well for the sake of this brief conversation, and then treasured Kalyan's every word as she would a precious stone.

"Please convey my greetings," he said.

"I will," Diribani replied. As if her face showed some of what she was thinking, Kalyan looked at her with a question in his dark eyes. At the same moment, Jasmine took exception to a pair of long-horned water buffalo. The trader saluted Diribani. He gave his restive horse her head and rode toward Lotus Gate.

"Lazy girl," the piltreet commented.

"Be quiet, you." Diribani hurried in the opposite direction. Water. Ma Hiral and Tana were waiting, and it was her fault.

But the world was so beautiful after the rains! Even hunger couldn't dim Diribani's pleasure in the sun's warmth on her shoulders, the vibrant colors all around. Cultivated fields alternated with junglelike thickets, alive with birds. It occurred to Diribani that poor girls had more freedom than rich girls. In her old life, she would never have been permitted to go to the sacred well without a chaperone. Beyond the family compound, a servant would have accompanied her, even if she just wanted to visit the corner vendor for a savory pickle. Diribani's mouth watered.

Poor girls have the freedom to go hungry. She could hear Tana saying it, tart as one of those very pickles. Dear Tana, whose face grew thinner with every passing day because she never took her fair share of rice, pressing it on her mother or Diribani. Though not related to Diribani by blood, Ma Hiral and Tana were more truly her family than her father's grasping cousins. And Ma Hiral had been so ill, disappearing into a fog of grief upon her husband's death. It had been up to Diribani and Tana to plan their futures. Their plan must work. Diribani was ready to pledge her two gold bangles on a successful outcome.

Tana wasn't beautiful, but she was so unselfish, and worked so hard, she should have a husband who appreciated her. If Kalyan didn't return her feelings, there were other rising young traders in Gurath. Rustam, Manekh, or maybe Bhim ... With the slightest improvement in their fortune, Tana could take her pick of suitors.

Suddenly, after one incautious step, the greasy mud slid under Diribani's foot. Both hands flew to the clay jar as she staggered, then fell to her knees. She landed with a splash in a puddle, just missing a long green ribbon. Diribani had never seen fabric so brilliant, as if it had been woven from threads of enameled metal. It would look lovely in Tana's black hair.

Before she could reach for it, the ribbon coiled upon itself. Diribani stared, her knees cold in the mud, her hands locked on the clay pot. Too late, she recognized the naga's muscular body and triangular head. A grass viper's fangs contained a potent poison. If it bit her, she'd be dead before her numb lips kissed the earth.

The serpent inspected Diribani, from sweat-beaded forehead to mud-spattered pink wrap.

Poor girls might walk alone on the road, barefoot, with skirts hiked to their knees. But, rich or poor, no girl could afford to ignore the goddess Naghali's snake messengers. Wisdom, good fortune, or death—which fate would this one bestow upon her?

CHAPTER 2

Tana


Foolish, foolish girl!" Ma Hiral banged an empty iron pot into its storage niche. Plaster flaked off the wall and sprinkled the stone floor with ocher-colored dust. "I forbid this mad scheme, do you hear? Forbid it!"

Kneeling by the banked kitchen fire, Tana turned the two thin gold bracelets around her wrist. "Mother, please understand. We don't have a choice."

Her mother shook a wooden spoon at her. "And when the white-coat soldiers break down our gate and throw you in Alwar's prison for trading without a guild stamp or permit? When they strip Diribani of her dowry bangles and kick us both into the gutter? What then?"

Tana heard the fear that underlaid the shrill words. "Don't worry." Gently, she took the spoon and put it away, next to the empty jars that had once held hot mustard oil, gram flour, and spices. "I'm not working on my own authority. Trader Nikhat will sign the report for the Jewelers Guild. When he sells the stones, he'll pay the taxes. Nobody's going to prison."

Ma Hiral changed tack. "You're only sixteen! You'd no business calling on a rival merchant without my permission."

Tana swallowed the answers that rose hot to her lips. Both she and Diribani were old enough to face the unpleasant truth. Their family might once have competed with Trader Nikhat's, but those days had ended two seasons ago, when bandits attacked her stepfather's caravan, killed Ba Javerikh, and stole all his capital. Crazed with grief, his widow had retreated to her bed. Only lately had she expressed an interest in household matters, and then mostly to complain about the lack of good tea, fresh flowers, and sandalwood soap. If Tana or her stepsister had waited for her mother's permission to do anything, they would have starved.

Ma Hiral spoke louder, as if Tana hadn't heard her previous remark. "Decent girls don't tarnish their reputations by allowing men inside our gate at night, bringing who knows what kind of trouble with them."

"Men?" Tana looked up from the rice jar. "You mean Kalyan?"

"That showy white horse of his! The neighbors will be talking."

Tana shook her head. "Everyone in Gurath knows that Kalyan runs his family's errands all over town." Her nails scraped the bottom of the big clay jar as she scooped out two small handfuls of rice. Glad for an excuse to keep her face turned away from her mother, she spread the grains in a tray. "Why shouldn't he bring a message from his sister to Diribani? He only stayed long enough to drop off the box, not much for people to gossip about."

"They'll blame our poor hospitality."


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson. Copyright © 2010 Heather Tomlinson. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
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.

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  • Posted April 26, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Even better than the original!

    Vastly different from Charles Perrault's The Fairies, in my opinion, Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson is a much-better version of the tale. For those not familiar with the original, two step-sisters encounter a disguised fairy on separate occasions. The younger of the two is blessed with a gift: Whenever she speaks, flowers and jewels fall from her lips. The eldest isn't a kind person, so the fairy curses her to spit out snakes and amphibians when she speaks. In traditional fairy tale fashion, the good-hearted, but downtrodden maiden overcomes all while those that put her down get their just rewards. Tomlinson took a fresh look at the original tale and thought, "What if the fairy blessed both sisters?" Both sisters are kind, good-hearted people who honestly love one another despite the fact that they don't share blood. Some parts of the tale remain consistent: Diribani is blessed with the gift of jewels and flowers, while her stepsister Tana is given the ability to speak snakes and toads. But which is a blessing and which a curse?

    Tomlinson sets Toads and Diamonds in India, where snakes are revered. Tana has also received a gift, not a curse, though there are those who flee from what her lips release upon speaking. Many families own house nagas, snakes that eat the rats and keep pestilence from spreading. While outwardly, Diribani has received a priceless gift and releases a small fortune whenever she has something to say, it's actually a curse in disguise. She's locked up and kept away from everyone; her jewels line the king's coffers and a greedy governor wants her for himself. Toads and Diamonds is told in alternating POVs, so readers are able to follow both Diribani and Tana, seeing what becomes of the sisters and their "gifts."

    Overall, Tana was my favorite of the sisters. She's made of strong mettle and goes through so much agony, while Diribani has a much easier life. Diribani's story flatlined a bit, and at times, I was eager to get back to Tana's plight. There was so much heartbreak and misery in her life; Tana was braver than most girls in her situation. As with any other fairy tale, there are also romantic prospects involved, though a relationship is hard for either sister due to their unique gifts. The throne doesn't want to let go of Diribani's riches while Tana feels that no one could love a girl who spits venomous snakes. The setting also played an important factor in the book and was a character in and of itself. I loved that Tomlinson modeled her land on a real country, India, and invented two powerful religions that are similar to ones we have in reality, while still being quite unique. Everything fit together well and created a lovely atmosphere not often seen in literature. Combined with an unusual outlook on what constitutes a blessing or a curse, Toads and Diamonds leaves readers with a lot to think about and reflect on.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 6, 2011

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    Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for TeensReadToo

    Diribani and Tana both meet a goddess while fetching water from the town. She grants each sister a gift. When Diribani speaks, jewels and flowers fall from her mouth. When Tana speaks, toads and snakes fall from hers. When their secret is discovered, it changes the sisters' lives. Diribani finds herself traveling with the Prince and his family. Each jewel is recorded and taken to send back to her village. She learns a new set of customs but struggles to keep part of herself intact. Tana's gift brings fear. She, too, leaves her home and travels to a monastery. Before long, she sets off on a pilgrimage to learn the true meaning of her gift. Her travels bring her grief, and destruction follows in her path. Are their gifts a blessing or a curse? A wonderful fairy tale consisting of two sisters, with alternating chapters of each one's story. As each sister struggles to understand her gift, they encounter danger, friendship, romance, hardships, joy, tests of their strength, and a strong desire to see her sister.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2013

    A must read!!!hey my last name is tomlinson tooo!!!we could be cousins

    This book is one of my favs

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  • Posted August 14, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    I was hooked from the first paragraph. I love the author's writ

    I was hooked from the first paragraph. I love the author's writing style. She is expressive and descriptive.
    I like to read reimaginings of fairy tales, but this was a new one for me. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and following on thier paths of self discovery.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2011

    Fantastic- A Must Read

    Toads and Diamonds, a story based on a fairy tale and set in a fantastical Mughal empire, is a must-read. Beautifully written, with compelling characters and unexpected insight, this is definitely a book I want added to my collection!

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  • Posted February 16, 2011

    kinky but cute

    my oh my this book is great yall

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted September 3, 2013

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    Posted March 19, 2011

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    Posted March 25, 2011

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