Rescued from the archives again!! This time, it is a YA book review titled Toads and Diamonds. And while I recall thinking about these wonderful storied connections this tale has around the world, I did not talk much about it; except for the brief comment about it being a retelling. Anyway, if you have been following my blog, you will know I love to explore connections — a lot. Connections between stories, traditions, and other etcs from different parts of the world; as well as connections between different things – music and art; art and books; poetry and ….; well, the list is endless.
So today’s post explores connections for this specific tale; and I would love to hear of any similar tales in your culture if you know of the same. I will add it to this post as an update later and credit you as well 🙂
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Toads and Diamonds
Title: Toads and Diamonds
Author: Heather Tomlinson
Length: 288 pages
Genre: Fantasy (YA)
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (March 30th 2010)
Diribani has come to the village well to get water for her family’s scant meal of curry and rice. She never expected to meet a goddess there. Yet she is granted a remarkable gift: Flowers and precious jewels drop from her lips whenever she speaks.
It seems only right to Tana that the goddess judged her kind, lovely stepsister worthy of such riches. And when she encounters the goddess, she is not surprised to find herself speaking snakes and toads as a reward.
Blessings and curses are never so clear as they might seem, however. Diribani’s newfound wealth brings her a prince—and an attempt on her life. Tana is chased out of the village because the province’s governor fears snakes, yet thousands are dying of a plague spread by rats. As the sisters’ fates hang in the balance, each struggles to understand her gift. Will it bring her wisdom, good fortune, love . . . or death?
This was a YA book and I do not recall exactly how I discovered the book but am so glad I did. The cover definitely is catching and the description too.
Toads and Diamonds is a charming retelling of the classic story of two step-sisters (The Fairies by Charles Perrault). Tomlinson makes this book wonderful by creating a strong bond of love and friendship between the two sisters who are a perfect blend of beauty and brains – Diribani is beautiful while Tana is clever.
This story is set in a land which can be described as an exotic, colorful, magical, alternate India (kind of like an Indian Narnia). As I read the book, I followed the sisters on their travels and adventures which begin after they both meet with the Goddess Naghali-ji who bestows on them the gifts of Toads(and snakes) and Diamonds(as well as flowers and other gems). As their gifts (which is a blessing, which a curse?) are discovered, their lives change and they go on separate paths. Tomlinson switches back and forth between their stories – Tana as she spouts flowers, gems and Diribani who chooses to remain mute instead of letting out toads and snakes – beautifully and weaves in secondary characters who play important roles effortlessly. As I reached the last page of the book, I was left with a curiously nice feeling – of having read something that was satisfying and still left me longing for something more. All in all, a great read! I am now on the look for more YA and more Tomlinson.
goes towards my South Asian book challenge.
Get It Here
- The Restless Girls: A delightful twist on the Twelve Dancing Princesses
- The Big Book of Twisted Fairy Tales: In this one, four favorite familiar fairy tale characters return to your bookshelf to teach important values without preaching
- Greatest Magical Stories: Stories handpicked by Michael Morpugo are retold by well-known children’s authors in this charming, gift-able collection
- Vasilisa (Old Rus #1): I added this to one of my TBR lists – here – and hope to get to reading it over the next few weeks. Fairy and folk tales from Russia have a special place in my heart..
Wonderful Storied Connections Around the World
Now, getting to the connections. First, a general outpouring of thoughts followed by the specifics related to the featured book – Toads and Diamonds.
Tales Truly Travel!
Before stories were written down, they were told orally; passed across generations as parents and grandparents told tales to young ones ; traveled over villages, towns, and even countries as various performers (minstrels, bards, theater groups, and more) told tales to engaged audiences; and even exchanged maybe by weary travelers — who were not storytellers per-se, but tradesmen or just regular people traveling elsewhere for various reasons — as they met on their journeys like crossing ships.
Over time, someone in each of these places wrote these stories down; each of them most likely having a slightly altered version; because, maybe the tellers made changes based on their audiences or because they remembered parts of it and/or added their own embellishments to it each time they told it. And just like in the parlor game, the version that got written down was different, each and every time, without fail!
Back to the Storied Connections For Toads and Diamonds
The first connection: As already mentioned in the book description, this is a retelling of The Fairies by Charles Perrault. And another title for this tale happens to be Diamonds and Toads (or Toads and Diamonds)
- sukhu and dukhu
And Now, the End of This Post
Dear reader, have you read the featured book? Or the connected/related reads? What do you think about retellings – yay or nay or somewhere in between? If you have read any, which one is your favorite so far? I love to get recommendations from you..and don’t worry about my TBR (it takes care of itself!!:-))