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The Two Princesses of Bamarre
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Gr 4-7-This story takes place in a magical time and mystical place and is teaming with dragons, specters, gryphons, elves, and fairies. Princesses Addie and Meryl live with their father, the king, in the castle of Bamarre, where magic and sorcery are a part of everyday life. While Meryl is fearless and confident, Addie is quite comfortable letting others take care of her. When Meryl falls victim to a mysterious illness called the Gray Death, which has already taken countless citizens including the girls' mother, Addie is determined to find the cure and save her. The prophecy is that "the Gray Death will be cured when cowards find courage and rain falls over all Bamarre." Aided by magical gifts from her governess, the elf nurse, and the king's sorcerer, Addie begins her quest. In a Chaucer-like tale, the story of Drualt, a hero of epic proportions, is excerpted in verse throughout the story. He serves as a role model for Addie, who believes she is weak, but her adventures teach her that one must look within to find strength. While this lesson is presented in a somewhat didactic manner, it is one that adolescents can never hear too often. An unexpected twist neatly ties up most of the loose ends. The characters aren't as fully drawn and the writing is not as consistent as we have come to expect from Levine, resulting in a slow starter that speeds up slightly at the end.-Kit Vaughan, Midlothian Middle School, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

The robust voice of esteemed British actress Lynn Redgrave escorts listeners on an adventurous journey in Levine's (Ella Enchanted) latest fantasy novel. Princess Addie and her older (by one year) sister Princess Meryl are the best of friends, even though their personalities appear to be totally different: Addie is fearful and shy while Meryl favors swordplay and entertains thoughts of slaying monsters and dragons. But when Meryl is stricken by an ancient, fatal illness known as the Gray Death, Addie must overcome her fears and embark on a dangerous quest to find a cure. Addie's search leads her through forests filled with ogres and specters and even to a dragon's lair, where she learns the secret of what will heal Meryl. Along the way, Addie is bolstered by magical gifts and occasional visits from Rhys, the young sorcerer she has come to love. However, finding an antidote for the Gray Death does not save Meryl in a way that anyone would expect. Redgrave energetically characterizes a colorful line-up of characters and beasts, from the stern busybody of a governess, Bella, to Rhys, whose accent falls somewhere between Scottish and Indian. But Redgrave most convincingly portrays Addie's shift from trepidation to courage. Ages 10-up. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

"Tough to put down, this is a shades-of-Oz story that sticks with you."--Atlanta Journal & Constitution "Deserves to be around for a long, long time."--Dallas Morning News "Ella Enchanted fans need wait no longer for a satisfying repeat of Levine's success."--VOYA

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