By Sarah McGuire
Available now from EgmontUSA (Lerner)
VALIANT is exactly what I look for in my fairytales retold. Young Saville's father has a stroke, meaning that she has to disguise herself as a boy to keep up the family business. (She's a tailor, and no man would let his measurements be taken by a woman.) When the young boy she takes in is threatened, she faces down two giants and ends up becoming the country's hero.
This take on "The Brave Little Tailor" features a heroine who is intelligent and unsurprisingly valiant. She might not be a physical match for an army of giants led by a mad duke, but she's not going to roll over and let the people she loves be annihilated. I also liked the complications in her life, from a father who loves fabric more than his daughter to a man who appreciates her but already has a fiancee.
This modern update keeps a strong traditional feel amid all the progressiveness. I think it will be a big hit with fans of Gail Carson Levine and Shannon Hale. Like those authors, Sarah McGuire serves up an inventively adventurous heroine, an age-appropriate romance, and a lovingly crafted world. Even the giants aren't mere flat monsters but an entire society with a variety of personalities.
This middle-grade debut is a charmer. I hope it doesn't get lost as one of the books on Egmont's last list, thankfully being distributed by Lerner.