Name of Book: Sleeping Ugly
Author: Jane Yolen
Audience: Grades K-4
Summary: Princess Miserella is as miserable as her name. She sees an old woman asleep under a tree, kicks her and demands to be lead back to her home. The old woman instead leads her to the house of Plain Jane where she behaves just as miserably to Jane as she did to the old woman. In the end she not only loses the prince, but becomes the “object” of everyone’s comfort—a chair.
Literary elements at work in the story: This fractured fairy tale is written as an easy reader, but in the deft hands of Yolen is as fine as any story not confined to limited vocabulary and sentence structure. Fully realized characters bring life and wit to the story as do the illustrations.
How do the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story: Yolen has a point to make yet does it without a hint of being a “message” story. Although all of the main characters are women, the appeal of this story is universal.
Theology: Ephesians 5:21-33. The women in the writer of Ephesian’s time had a hard life. They could be divorced for almost any reason, treated as property, given for “use” to sweeten a business deal, and otherwise mistreated. The writer in this passage is trying to put respect and love back into marriage. His words were as radical for his day as Ms. Yolen’s parody was when her book was first published. Both felt that relationships should be based on more than the superficial. In the story the beautiful, but selfish princess winds up as a chair. In this passage, the selfish wind up out of sync with God’s will. In either case, the damage done by not respecting those we love is disastrous.
Faith Talk Questions:
- Have you ever acted like the princess in the story?
- Have you ever felt like Plane Jane?
- Do you think the princess deserved to be a chair?
- Do you think she stayed that way forever?
- The writer in this Bible passage is taking a new stand on marriage, that husbands and wives should love and respect each other. In the story the princess didn’t respect anyone. How do you respect others?
- Is it hard?
- What does Jesus say about how we are to behave towards others?
This review was written by regular contributor Janet Lloyd.
Sleeping Ugly by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.