Summary and book reviews of Leaping Beauty by Gregory Maguire

Leaping Beauty

and other animal fairy tales

By Gregory Maguire

Leaping Beauty
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  • Hardcover: Aug 2004,
    208 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2006,
    224 pages.

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Book Summary

Who better to wreak havoc with eight beloved fairy tales than Gregory Maguire, the brilliant, funny, and nationally best-selling author of the adult novel Wicked as well as the hilarious middle-grade series the Hamlet Chronicles.


Zany animals of all species run through these fractured tales with alarming speed and dexterity. Who would have thought that the ageless, exquisite Cinderella could be recast as the silly story of an enormous yet lovable elephant who plods along to the ball with glass pie plates on her feet; or that Sleeping Beauty, that most regal of all fairy tales, could be twisted into the story of a frog with a most unusual and promising dance career? Get ready to meet a gorilla queen and a psycho chimp, seven giant giraffes, and one very bad walrus.


Accompanying these hilarious stories are delightfully witty pictures by Chris L. Demarest, master of black line and droll humor.

LEAPING BEAUTY

The king and queen of the frogs gave birth to a baby. They were delighted, for they had long wanted a child. The tadpole was as green as the slime in a vernal pond, and the bumps on her skin had bumps of their own. The king and queen decided to call her Beauty, as she was the most beautiful thing they had ever seen.

When the time came to have a party to celebrate her birth, the royal parents invited all the fairies in the kingdom, including bumblebees, butterflies, and an airborne brotherhood of beetles.

The party started out swell. The bumblebees brought their bagpipes, the butterflies brought their banjos, and the beetles brought their bassoons. The queen frog set up the guests in a summerhouse so that their hootenanny music could carry across the pond. (You'd be surprised how much music is written for bagpipe, banjo, and bassoon trios.)

The king frog kept a watch fondly over his little Beauty.

The bumblebees ate the biscuits, the butterflies ate...

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Reviews

BookBrowse

Leaping Beauty looked just the thing for our nine-year old daughter, so I handed Leaping Beauty over one evening and left her to it. Not long after, chuckles were heard from her bedroom, followed by full blown laughter, followed by the tap tap of little feet as she came to find us in order to share a particularly good bit. After that I read most of the stories with her and not only enjoyed her enjoyment of them, but have to admit that I found them quite fun myself. One of the reviewers commented that he thought much of the humor was pitched over the heads of the middle grade (11-14 year old) target audience. This is a sentiment often repeated by reviewers about children's books and one that I can't help thinking is a little patronizing; I dread to think how many references go over my head when I read a book, but it doesn't stop me enjoying it, so why should it be different for children?

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Media Reviews
School Library Journal - Eva Mitnick

While kids will laugh out loud at the irrepressible youngest sibling in "The Three Little Penguins" and the "Big Bad Walrus", some of the selections, including "Leaping Beauty", seem labored and uninspired. However, fans of Dav Pilkey and Jon Scieszka will appreciate the zany situations and the joyful fracturing of traditional tales. Grade 3-6.

Publishers Weekly

Maguire (Wicked; the Hamlet Chronicles) pitches much of the humor over the heads of middle graders. But there's clever wordplay...and Demarest's wild and scratchy line drawings help pump up the child appeal. A good choice for those whose tastes run to silly and sillier. Ages 8-12. 

Booklist - Kay Weisman

More upbeat than Vivian Vande Velde's Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird (1995) and more complex than Jon Scieszka's The Stinky Cheese Man (2002), this is a delightful collection, sure to be popular with sophisticated readers.  Gr. 5-8.

Reader Reviews
BookBrowse

Natasha - aged 9
I think Leaping Beauty is a good book because it's fun and it makes silly jokes, and it has a lot of stories in it. I have not read anything else like it, but I think this is really good. My favorite story was Cinderelephant, it was...   Read More

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