Thursday, July 19, 2018

Marabel and the Book of Fate

Barrett, Tracy. Marabel and the Book of Fate
February 6th 2018 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Ohio E Book Project copy

Marabel has always lived in the shadow of her slightly older twin brother, Marco, since the Book of Fate that the kingdom of Magikos always consults has deemed him The Chosen One. It doesn't hurt that he's talented, brilliant, and super nice, but Marabel has many fine qualities of her own that her parents can't see. When her aunt Mab, who rules the Barrens, crashes the twins' 13th birthday celebration and kidnaps her brother, Marabel knows that only she can rescue him, since everyone else believes the prophecy that Marco will save himself! With her friend Ellie and Florian, a snarky unicorn, Marabel takes off across the land outside Magikos, where "evils" and magic are on the loose. Marabel proves herself to be up to the task of dealing with dragons, fighting with swords, and negotiating with her aunt for her brother's release. Maybe the Book of Fate isn't completely accurate, or perhaps the people who consult it read into it only what they want to, since Marabel manages to accomplish everything that needs done and saves the kingdom even though the prophecy has never said anything about her!
Strengths: I adore Barrett's work, especially The Sherlock Files and Cold in Summer, On Etruscan Time and King of Ithaka, so it was good to see something new from her. There are so many medievalish type fantasy adventure books that one has to be super good before I will buy it. Marabel's tale had a nice twist, some great adventures (being captured by vegan giants) and a fast-paced plot that made this a fun summer read.
Weaknesses: This had a couple of moments like the p(igeon)-mail in Jean Ferris' Once Upon a Marigold (2002) that were clever but also a little annoying, like the Wiz-Fi and Scari instead of Siri. Younger readers probably won't mind them, and they aren't repeated a lot, like the p-mail was.
What I really think: I have so many medieval adventure tales that I almost feel bad purchasing this, but readers who like Levine's Two Princesses of Bamarre, Durst's The Stone Girl or George's The Rose Legacy are usually voracious readers who WANT lots of tales on the same subject, so I think I can justify purchasing this.

Someone commented on my Goodreads account that if I had to justify purchasing a book, I probably shouldn't. But it's such a balancing act. Do I have to buy some popular fiction that is absolute crap because my students will ask for it? Yes. Do I buy all the sports books because I know they will get read? Yes. Do I buy award winners that my students are never going to ask for or read? No. (That's what the public library is for.) Do I buy books that I really enjoy that will be read by significantly fewer students but will remain in the library for a very long time? Yes. Since my annual budget from the school board is about $6,500-$7,000 ($10 per student per annum, usually), I read every fiction book before I buy it, and I donate $2,000-$3,000 worth of brand new hardcover fiction to my school library every year, I don't think I need to justify myself very much. But I still try, so I think I'm a good steward of tax payer money.

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