Both sisters read and review the same book, a fairy tale retelling.
Our Fairy-Tale Book Club Pick for December 2020 is:
Join us in reading this fairy-tale retelling over then next few months. In December, Mary and Elizabeth will each post a review of this novel. Then, they will discuss the book and share their discussion. You can join the discussion as you read by joining our Facebook group!
For more information on the fairy tale that inspires this book, keep reading below.
Diamonds & Toads
"Toads and Diamonds" or "Diamonds and Toads" is a fairy tale written by Charles Perrault and first published under the title "The Fairies" in 1697. It is a tale fitting into type 480 of the Aarne-Thompson-Uther (ATU) index: the kind and unkind girls. Perrault's tale was inspired by a French folk story; he gathered and wrote literary adaptations of stories from the French oral tradition in much the way that the Brothers Grimm gathered Germanic tales.
You can find a full English translation of the original Perrault tale here. SurLaLune (an excellent fairy tales blog) shared an introduction to stories of the ATU-480 type here.
This tale plays out a number of common fairy tale tropes that will likely be familiar to you, even if the story itself if new to you. We have a fairy in disguise who sets up a test to determine the worthiness of the characters who interact with her, with a reward for the 'kind' girl and a punishment for the 'unkind' girl. We have a Cinderella-esque situation with the 'good' sister being mistreated by her mother, who strongly favors the spoiled 'bad' sister. In the original French tale that inspired Perrault, the mother and sister of our 'kind girl' protagonist were of the evil-step variety; he changed them to blood family in order to better distinguish the tale from that of Cinderella.
If you really enjoy Toads and Diamonds and want to explore another retelling of this tale, you can also check out Gail Carson Levine's novella The Fairy's Mistake (the first story in her set of Princess Tales). It's a short, quick read with a humorous twist on the tale.