Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Toads and Diamonds
Tomlinson, Heather. 2010. TOADS AND DIAMONDS. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 9780805089684 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
The richness of India’s pre-colonial culture is elaborately developed in Tomlinson’s retelling of Perrault’s “Diamonds and Toads.” Two sisters find their lives drastically changed by the gifts endowed upon them by the goddess Naghali-Ji. Tana who is often rude and jealous of her stepsister is gifted with speaking serpents and toads, whereas Diribani who is gentle and caring is gifted with speaking jewels and flowers. The sisters’ lives take two very different courses as Tana suffers poverty and danger while Diribani lives under royal protection quite similar to imprisonment. Ultimately, it is Tana who saves the land and people with her serpents and toads, while Diribani is able to bring financial comfort to the lives of the common people with her jewels.
The well-realized setting and the cultural richness of old India provide a strong foundation for the adventures that take place in this retelling. The continual action and events hold the reader and support the unique setting and motifs from a time long ago. Throughout this lavish novel, Tomlinson creates a strong bond of love between the two sisters that melds their different lives together that ultimately brings the story to its superb finale.
This novel is an excellent inclusion in a study of fairy tales and their retellings within cultures and the centuries. It is also an excellent character study as well as an opportunity to find similarities with today’s young teenagers.
Other books that retell a fairy tale:
McKinley, Robin. BEAUTY: A RETELLING OF THE STORY OF BEAUY AND THE BEAST. ISBN 9780060241490
Shulman, Polly. THE GRIMM LEGACY. ISBN 9780399250965
By Christine J. Rayl