Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Toads and Diamonds by Heather Tomlinson

I have to say: Wow, I really loved this one.

First of all, I love the story, Toads and Diamonds. (It's also sometimes just called "The Fairy," you might be familiar with it under that title.) Although I have seen a few picture book version of it, this is the first novelization I am aware of.

As you can see from the cover, Tomlinson has added the spice of India to her mix of the story. Although it doesn't take place in India, she's borrowed clothing, food, and religion from the culture to create a rich fantasy world where a Snake Goddess can bless two sisters in very different ways.

Unlike the original tale, both sisters are sympathetic in this version. Although young and beautiful Diribani (in the place of the protagonist of the original tale) has lost her father, she considers her stepmother and stepsister to be her closest family. Now they are struggling to survive without their merchant father, so when Diribani goes to the well and is blessed by the Goddess with beauty--flowers and gems--her sister Tana also goes for water, but her blessing (toads and snakes) is of a much different nature.

Built into the culture is a regard for snakes (with a snake goddess, after all) and respect for nature. I was impressed at how much Tomlinson altered the story while still keeping the fundamentals the same. I would not hesitate to recommend this book, it's a delightful read and I loved the adaptation of the fairy tale.

Check out Heather Tomlinson's other fairy tale stories at her website.

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