Sunday, November 25, 2018

Seeing Red (Whatever After #12)

Mlynowski, Sarah. Seeing Red (Whatever After #12)
October 30th 2018 by Scholastic Press
Copy provided by the publisher

Abby is excited that her nana is coming to stay with her and Jonah while her parents are away, but when she gets an invitation to come to a sleepover at Penny's house, she's mad at her grandmother for not letting her go. She plans to sneak away via the magic mirror, and is not happy when Jonah tries to join her. Instead of getting to Penny's house, the two end up in the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Red (aka Lali),  is taking muffins to her Dadi (grandmother) and knows about the wolf. She's not overly concerned, but Abby is. When the wolf, Owen, shows up and claims he likes to eat people food but not people, she doesn't quite believe him. If any grandmother deserved to get eaten by a wolf, it would be Dadi. She's cranky and mean to Lali, complaining about her muffin and tea and telling Lali she's the worst granddaughter ever. When Abby and Jonah get in a bit of a spot, their own grandmother shows up to save the day! It turns out that she, too, had a portal when she was young, but didn't get to travel into fairy tales quite as much. With her help, the siblings are able to understand both Owen and Dadi better and arrange Red's situation so that everyone is happier. Nana is impressed with Abby and Jonah's ability to deal with fairy tales, and understands why Abby was upset about not going to Penny's. The next adventure in this series will involve Jack and the Beanstalk.

The inclusion of Abby's grandmother was a nice addition to this lengthy series, and added a fun new dimension to the traveling through portals. Nana didn't have a fairy like Maryrose to guide her through her own adventures, and there is not very much about the fairy in this story, but I'm sure that she will be more involved in future stories.

Lali's story is a bit different as well-- even though Abby generally orchestrates some change in the fairy tale character's lives, she seems to step in even more here. Dadi's husband has died, she doesn't want to leave her cottage to go live with Lali and her mother, but she needs someone to take care of her. Owen is at odds with his brothers and sister, who do think humans are tasty. He is also in need of some love and attention. Abby's solution is clever and fun.

The part I liked best was actually Abby's interaction with her grandmother over Penny's party. Yes, ten-year-olds love their grandmothers and want to hang out with them, watching movies and reveling in grandma's good cooking, but missing an opportunity to hang out with friends is crushing and apt to end with the kind of bratty behavior Abby exhibits. As popular as this series is, I'd love to see Mlynowski turn her hand to some new, stand alone middle grade titles.

Readers who have moved beyond Daisy Meadows magic fairy and animal books, are comfortable with Pearce and Stiefvater's Pip Bartlett series, but are maybe not quite ready for Buckley's Fairytale Detectives and Colfer's Land of Stories will enjoy this fun, tween story of traveling into classic fairy tales and saving the day.

My readers really do like this series, but it's a LOT of books. I get tired of any series after about five books, and series tend to be a library nightmare when they get to be this long! What happens is that there's a series like Rodda's Deltora Quest (2000), which circulates steadily for a number of years until someone loses book four. There's no way to replace it (it was published in paperback but purchased in a prebind), so what to do? I'm sure these will remain available for a while, but it is always my irrational librarian fear! (Or, like with Diane Duane's So You Want to Be a Wizard series, you have to repurchase the first book twice because it falls apart, yet no one ever makes it to book ten!) (Can you tell I've already thought about weeding for this year? Somper's Vampirates (2005) is definitely on the chopping block for this very reason-- first book is in tatters, but only one person has checked out book five and six.
Ms. Yingling

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