Graceling by Kristin Cashore

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Graceling by Kristin Cashore ISBN: 978-0547258300, HMH Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (September 7, 2009)

Plot Summary:

In the Seven Kingdoms, when a child is born with odd colored eyes all know that the child will graced with a remarkable talent. Such children are considered the property of the crown and must serve their King until he releases them. Ever since Lady Katsa killed a man who was threatening her at a young age, all have known that her grace is killing. King Randa uses his niece as a weapon to punish and threaten any that would oppose him. Tired of her uncle’s brutality, Katsa forms a secret council to oppose the evil tyranny of corrupt rulers. It is through the missions of the council that she first runs into Prince Po, also graced with a fighting ability. Together, they uncover a secret that will shake the Seven Kingdoms to its foundations.

Critical Evaluation:

Graceling is a beautifully written fantasy novel that revolves around the theme that everything is not always as it appears. Much of what takes place is an illusion and nobody’s grace is what it appears to be. Leck’s ability to make people believe anything that he says is simply a mirror to other lies and assumptions that take place throughout the novel. Prince Raffin, Katsa’s cousin is secretly gay, and Lord Oll, King Randa’s spymaster, is secretly working for the council. However, that is not to say that Graceling is a deep novel. For the most part, it is full of adventure and daring feats by gracelings who should be considered to be supernaturally talented in their area of expertise. In a scene reminiscent of Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, Katsa stands off King Randa’s entire guard by detailing how she will be able to kill each of them in turn. It is also a love story between Prince Po and Lady Katsa. Po and Katsa travel across the Seven Kingdoms as an unstoppable force for good.

Information about the author:

From her blog:

So, here’s the short tale of me: I grew up in the countryside of northeastern Pennsylvania in a village with cows and barns and beautiful views from the top of the hill and all that good stuff. I lived in a rickety old house with my parents, three sisters, and a scattering of cats, and I READ READ READ READ READ. I read while brushing my teeth, I read while chopping parsley, the first thing I reached for when I woke up in the morning was my book; the only two places I didn’t read were in the car and in bed. What did I do then? The one thing I liked even more than reading: I daydreamed.

And so, without knowing it, I was planting the seeds. Reading and daydreaming = perfect preparation for writing.

At 18 I went off to college– thank you, Williams College, for the financial aid that made this possible– and it almost killed me. College is hard, man, and the Berkshires are cloudy. A (phenomenal) year studying abroad in sunny Sydney revived me. After college I developed a compulsive moving problem: New York City, Boston, Cambridge, Austin, Pennsylvania, Italy, and even a short stint in London, where my showerhead hung from the cutest little stand that was exactly like the cradle of an old-fashioned telephone. The best phone calls are the pretend phone calls made from your telephone tub.

During my stint in Boston, I got an M.A. at the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons College. (Thank you, Simmons, for the scholarship that made this possible!) Grad school almost killed me, but I felt a lot more alive than when I was almost being killed in college. The Simmons program is stupendous. It got me thinking and breathing YA books. It got me writing.

Am I getting boring?

Since Simmons, I haven’t stopped writing, not once. I’ve developed a compulsive writing problem that makes my moving problem look like a charming personality quirk. I can’t stop! But it’s not actually a problem, because I don’t want to stop. I’ve been writing full-time for a bunch of years now, first doing educational writing for the K-6 market and now working on my novels. It’s a dream job, which is another way of saying that when I shop for work clothes, I go straight to the pajamas section.

A few years ago I grew tired of all the moving and dealt with it by, um, moving, from Jacksonville, Florida, to Cambridge, Massachusetts, trading the St. Johns River for the Charles River and pelicans for geese. As a native northerner, it’s nice to be back in the land of four seasons. I feel as if I’ve come home. :o)

And that’s my story.

Reader’s Annotation:

In the Seven Kingdoms, when a child is born with odd colored eyes all know that the child will graced with a remarkable talent.

Genre:

Fantasy.

Curriculum Ties:

N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

What would it be like to be really good at something, but told that because of your talent you were not free to do what you wanted.

Reading Level/Interest Age:

Grades 8 and up

Challenge Issues:

Violence, sexual situations.

I would make sure that all material was purchased in accordance with my library’s collection development policy and make sure to keep a file containing positive reviews for books that I thought might be challenged. In the event of a challenge, I would actively listen to the parent’s concern and ask if they had read the book. I would then explain why the book had been added to the collection and provide with the reviews and a copy of the collection development policy. I would affirm that they are within their rights to limit what their children read, but that other parents also have the right to determine what their children can read. If all else failed, I would provide the parent with a reconsideration form.

Reasons for inclusion:

A YA librarian recommended it to me.

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