Official Review: Primrose’s Curse

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Vscholz
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Latest Review: Primrose’s Curse by Kiara Shankar, Vinay Shankar
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Official Review: Primrose’s Curse

Post by Vscholz » 16 May 2019, 19:59

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Primrose’s Curse" by Kiara Shankar, Vinay Shankar.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Primrose Fernetise is a beautiful young girl. Her father has suffered a stroke, and she must go into the enchanted forest to retrieve a divine flower to restore his health. Upon entering the woods, she meets magical talking creatures who recruit her on a journey to save the world while saving her father—if she can defeat the evil queen.

Primrose's Curse: A Fairy Tale of an Audacious Girl by Kiara Shankar and Vinay Shankar is a fantasy story aimed at middle-grade readers. The author is a middle school student herself, and her father has helped her develop this book. It is a cute and easy read, especially for those who enjoy lighter fantasy stories.

I absolutely adore this novel! I have always been interested in fairy tales, going so far as to focus on them for academic research. Shankar's writing style is appropriate for the target audience, and she infuses the story with humor, good manners, and delicious food. Oftentimes with fantasy settings, a willing suspension of disbelief is required; Shankar does not expect her readers to accept the magic of the world but rather answers potential questions through the title character. When first encountering the talking animals, Primrose wonders how and why they are speaking her language, which is then promptly explained. I admire how Shankar addresses concerns that may be raised by younger readers. Instead of leaving readers to make up reasons for themselves (or to bother older friends or relatives with such questions), Shankar uses Primrose and the other characters to explain.

While thinking of the negative aspects, I noticed that many of my (very mild) complaints are personal and that not all other readers would view it the same way. There are some clichés in the story, such as the physical appearance of the evil queen and the description of the islands of Hellevue and Heavenvue. There is also a lot of explanation that more mature readers might find unnecessary. However, I know that going against the clichés might be just as bad, and not having an explanation might make it too advanced for the target audience. I also know that younger readers may not know the possibilities of irony and plot twists or have a strong background in fantasy novels so I cannot hold these “complaints” against the book. However, there are numerous grammatical and punctuation errors throughout, which does count against it. I am also a little disappointed at the stereotypical description of the protagonist—blonde hair, blue eyes, and, quite frankly, boring. The Shankars are not white so I would have been delighted to see them represent their history in the story (according to the daughter's author page, she enjoys Bollywood music; aside from that, nothing else is said about ethnicity).

Overall, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I love that Shankar's father is involved in her writing career and that she is getting recognition for her work. She was previously published in a collection of entries from a national writing contest, which is a clear sign that she will continue being successful. I do want to mention that another round of editing is not sufficient to raise the score to perfect—I believe Primrose should be a person of color to really make this novel stand out from all of the other books. Either way, a three out of four stars rating is still pretty good, especially for a teenager. I would suggest that parents read this book with their children, whether pre-teens or younger, because it serves as a way of bonding (as the authors did through the creative process). Otherwise, anyone who enjoys middle-grade fairy tale books will enjoy it.

******
Primrose’s Curse
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As for you & your heart & the things you said & didn't say, she will remember them all when men are fairy tales in books written by rabbits. (Schmendrick the Magician)

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Post by Vscholz » 18 May 2019, 13:20

I do want to clarify that I do not mean that the author's background impacts merit for this rating. I just meant that it would be an even better book if there were more representation in the characters. We have too much white representation, and it saddens me when a person of color does not represent herself/himself. I am very much a white female yet I still want to see more ethnicities and races in our books, especially those aimed at younger readers. Please know that my rating is based on my opinion that the book is good (3) but that it would be excellent (4) if the protagonist were not white. I normally do not pay much attention to an author's background, but I feel it is important in this case to emphasize it. I would still give the same rating if another author wrote this story because representation matters.

Check out these sites for more info on where I am coming from:
https://blog.leeandlow.com/2018/05/10/t ... hing-2018/

https://www.scarymommy.com/representati ... diversity/

https://www.slj.com/?detailStory=CCBC-r ... rens-books
As for you & your heart & the things you said & didn't say, she will remember them all when men are fairy tales in books written by rabbits. (Schmendrick the Magician)

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Post by Amanda Deck » 18 May 2019, 13:28

On the cover, the girl is redheaded, not blonde. I disagree that she "should" be other than white just for PC reasons. The author may have based the character on a friend or thought it would be boring to write about someone who looks just like her since this is a fairy tale/fantasy book.
Do you think you would have pointed out something like this if a white child wrote about an Indian girl?

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Post by Meg98 » 18 May 2019, 14:49

Very thorough review... I like the fact that the author is a middle-schooler herself, and kudos to her for writing what seems like a very well written book at such a young age! Sounds like a cute story, and I do find your views on the character's race/representation insightful. Thanks for this great review!
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Post by Stephanie Elizabeth » 18 May 2019, 16:09

Great review! Also I think it is wonderful that the author is the same age as the intended audience.

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Post by sonya01 » 18 May 2019, 16:34

I think it is such an incredible achievement to publish a book while still at school and I hope this young author realizes what a gift she has. I do hope she doesn’t stop there, and goes on to write many more books for us all to enjoy. Thank you for your comments.

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Post by Rachel Lea » 18 May 2019, 16:48

I think it's really cool that this book was written by a middle-school student! The story sounds really sweet, too. Thanks for your review!
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Post by Vscholz » 18 May 2019, 17:07

Amanda Deck wrote:
18 May 2019, 13:28
On the cover, the girl is redheaded, not blonde. I disagree that she "should" be other than white just for PC reasons. The author may have based the character on a friend or thought it would be boring to write about someone who looks just like her since this is a fairy tale/fantasy book.
Do you think you would have pointed out something like this if a white child wrote about an Indian girl?
The book describes her as blonde. It is possible that the character is based on a friend--I hadn't considered that. I would have pointed out something like this if a white girl wrote about a POC. Other authors have done so and I applaud them for representation (as mentioned in my own comment). It takes courage to write about a different gender or ethnicity, but writing a story about yet another white character doesn't help our society grow towards equality and acceptance.

I didn't mean for the character for PC reasons but rather because many children are turned off by reading when they can't relate to the characters (as indicated by the links I provided in my comment). I'm privileged that the majority of books in America feature white protagonists, which means that I can physically see someone like me living out these stories, but, as an academic and supporter of the arts, I know that having characters of multiple ethnicities is important for non-white children. It isn't about being politically correct but about making children, teens, adults, everyone feel like they have a voice and that they matter.

I tried clarifying my intentions and acknowledged how they may be interpreted. Unfortunately, our society cannot agree on how to approach tolerance, making everyone out to be the bad guy. So I'll take whatever criticisms come my way and let them roll off my back because the need representation is more important than what others think, no matter how much it may harm my self-esteem.
As for you & your heart & the things you said & didn't say, she will remember them all when men are fairy tales in books written by rabbits. (Schmendrick the Magician)

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Post by Vscholz » 18 May 2019, 17:07

Rachel Lea wrote:
18 May 2019, 16:48
I think it's really cool that this book was written by a middle-school student! The story sounds really sweet, too. Thanks for your review!
It really is, and the adventures will continue! A second book is already in the works!
As for you & your heart & the things you said & didn't say, she will remember them all when men are fairy tales in books written by rabbits. (Schmendrick the Magician)

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Post by Vscholz » 18 May 2019, 17:08

sonya01 wrote:
18 May 2019, 16:34
I think it is such an incredible achievement to publish a book while still at school and I hope this young author realizes what a gift she has. I do hope she doesn’t stop there, and goes on to write many more books for us all to enjoy. Thank you for your comments.
She has a second book in the series that she is working on. Quite like the Snoopy Cat mysteries, I'll read other books in this series (although, based on feedback, I probably won't review them).
As for you & your heart & the things you said & didn't say, she will remember them all when men are fairy tales in books written by rabbits. (Schmendrick the Magician)

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Post by Vscholz » 18 May 2019, 17:09

Stephanie Elizabeth wrote:
18 May 2019, 16:09
Great review! Also I think it is wonderful that the author is the same age as the intended audience.
Indeed! It makes it easier for the audience to relate!
As for you & your heart & the things you said & didn't say, she will remember them all when men are fairy tales in books written by rabbits. (Schmendrick the Magician)

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Post by Vscholz » 18 May 2019, 17:10

Meg98 wrote:
18 May 2019, 14:49
Very thorough review... I like the fact that the author is a middle-schooler herself, and kudos to her for writing what seems like a very well written book at such a young age! Sounds like a cute story, and I do find your views on the character's race/representation insightful. Thanks for this great review!
I appreciate that you understand my view on representation. There is a fine line between a good book and a fantastic book. This one is so close...
As for you & your heart & the things you said & didn't say, she will remember them all when men are fairy tales in books written by rabbits. (Schmendrick the Magician)

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Post by Amanda Deck » 18 May 2019, 18:21

I suppose I take it as telling a very young, successful new writer that she should stick to writing about her own "kind" instead of whites. Maybe she lives in America, I don't know, but if not, the majority of people there might NOT be white and she would be representing the minority in her writing. Maybe she knows a blonde woman that she admires and this was her way of honoring that person. So many reasons are possible that I find it unfair to tell her not to write what SHE wants to write.

Don't let feedback like this stop you from reviewing more of her books, please! Your review was very helpful and mostly encouraging to a surprisingly young author. Enthusiasm about her work will help her, and you obviously enjoyed reading it, so keep on letting people know!

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Post by Krissykat » 18 May 2019, 23:05

Very insightful review. This book sounds like a great read for children, and awesome that the author is in the same age group. I think she will go far in this career. As for her choice for Primroses race...I just don't think that should had even been mentioned. This is her story from her imagination, not the readers.

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Post by sd_22 » 19 May 2019, 00:54

A tremendous achievement at such a young age. And it's endearing that she wrote this with her father.
Thanks for the perceptive review

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