Reviews for Snow in Summer : Fairest of Them All
Booklist Reviews 2011 November #2
Summer's grieving father suddenly brings a new wife to his 1940s West Virginia mountain home. Summer, born Snow in Summer, is glad to have someone to fill the void left by her mother's death, but Stepmama brings only coldness and a sense of wrongness into the house. When Summer won't become her stepmother's willing tool, she is put in harm's way, only to be saved from death by her own determination and seven fine men. This imaginative recasting of the traditional Snow White fairy tale is accented with just the right amount of cultural touches to give it an authentic Appalachian flavor. Summer's story is told as a recollection, which mitigates some of the scariness that arises from the dark arts at play. With so much of the book focused on the relationship between Stepmama and Summer (called Snow by her new mother), the resolution comes too fast and feels rushed. Still, fans of fairy-tale novelizations ought to be enchanted by Yolen's imaginative spin. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Spring
Yolen's "Snow White" retelling is set in Depression-era West Virginia. There's a calculating Stepmama and a magic mirror; the magic is tilted toward Pentecostal snake handling and country beliefs. The details of Appalachia, including narrative language both poetic and specifically mountain, are so authentic and true that, far from being a European-tale offshoot, this branches out into its own American inflorescence.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2012 #1
Snow in Summer, born with a caul in Depression-era West Virginia, is seven when her mama dies birthing her baby brother and her papa goes into a decline from grief. For four years Summer has no mama but Cousin Nancy; then Summer's papa, "besot" by a haint he meets on the mountain, abruptly takes a new wife, driving warm Cousin Nancy away. Summer at first laps up her stepmother's calculated affection, but soon that affection is bounded by rules and conditions that Snow (so re-nicknamed by Stepmama) can't possibly meet. Vignettes from other characters' perspectives reveal a more sinister plot -- Stepmama is slowly killing off Papa for his land, with plans to take seven years of Snow's life for her own when she inducts the girl into her own dark craft. Yes, there is a magic mirror, a hunter tasked with cutting out Snow's heart and roasting it, and "six small men who mine" (the seventh is away at university). But in Yolen's retelling of "Snow White," the magic is tilted toward Pentecostal snake handling, herbal wisdom, and country beliefs like the protective powers of the caul. The details of Appalachia that pervade the tale, including narrative language both poetic and specifically mountain, are so authentic and true that, far from being a wizened offshoot of a European rootstock, this story branches out into its own full, American inflorescence. anita l. burkam
Kirkus Reviews 2011 October #2
Yolen spins an interesting variation of the classical Snow White story, setting it in a small town in West Virginia in the 1940s. Snow in Summer--named after the beautiful white flowers in the front yard and called Summer for short--is 7 years old when her mother dies. After her death, Summer's father, Lemuel, is swallowed up by grief. Summer and her Cousin Nancy, who lives next door, do their best to hold things together as they watch Lemuel fade. Summer herself tells most of what happens in the years that follow, but occasional chapters are narrated by Cousin Nancy and, eventually, by Summer's stepmother, who has enchanted Lemuel in hopes of getting control of his land. Stepmother saps the remaining vitality from Lemuel and makes Summer's life a sequence of torments. The pace starts to pick up when Summer has her first period. Stepmother, convinced by now that Summer will not join her in what she calls "the craft," arranges to have the girl killed. Summer has only the advice of a magic mirror and, eventually, seven small friends to aid her. Can she survive? Yolen folds in references to folk tales and songs as well as such classics as The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the Just So Stories, giving the narrative a metafictive lift. A quiet and compelling story more closely tied to the classical fairy tale than the now-popular Disney version. (author's note) (Fantasy. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 October #2
Drawing from her eponymous short story of 2000, Yolen offers a gripping 20th-century adaptation of Snow White, starring Snow in Summer, a girl growing up in West Virginia in the 1940s. Summer's beloved Papa, bereft over the death of his wife and son, is seduced by a beautiful but wicked witch, who marries him and takes over the household, using her wiles to render Papa and the rest of the town helpless while she abuses her stepdaughter. Only widowed Cousin Nancy resists the witch and offers aid to Summer via some down-home magic. "Your caul, child.... I retrieved it right after you were born. Salted it down, let it dry over the rim of a bowl. I've kept it for you all this time." Based on the traditional Snow White--complete with a magic mirror and seven dwarfs (more or less), along with some Appalachian folklore, post-Depression era culture, and snake-handling evangelicals--this story is beautifully written and deliciously scary, with just enough differences from familiar versions to keep readers guessing. Ages 10-up. (Nov.) [Page ]. Copyright 2011 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2011 November
Gr 5-7--As she did in Briar Rose (Tor, 1992), Yolen retells a classic fairy tale. The protagonist, named Snow in Summer but called Summer by her doting parents, is enjoying an idyllic childhood in post-Depression Appalachia. Papa's singing accompanies all he does, and both his garden and Summer thrive because of his attention. Mama surrounds her daughter with her warmth and love. But when Mama and her new baby are lost in childbirth, Summer and her father find themselves lost. Cousin Nancy attempts to fill the void for Summer, but Papa becomes more distant with each passing day, spending every evening playing music at his wife's gravestone. When he returns from the cemetery one evening with a new woman on his arm, Cousin Nancy warns that he has been besotted by a witch. So begins Summer's journey toward a showdown with Stepmama. Yolen's "Snow White" follows the familiar path of the childhood story but adapts well to its more modern setting and characters. Period details feel authentic to both the time and the story line. The use of Appalachian turns of phrase may leave some readers stumped, but the language adds to the story's firm grounding in its new setting. A well-imagined and well-told addition to collections of retold fairy tales.--Colleen S. Banick, Tomlinson Middle School, Fairfield, CT [Page 145]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.