Shadow Spinner


Book: Shadow Spinner

Author: Susan Fletcher 

Illustrator: Dave Kramer

Publisher: Aladdin Paperbacks, Reprinted 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0780799769 Hardcover

ISBN-10: 0780799763 Hardcover

ISBN-13: 978-0689830518 Paperback

ISBN-10: 0689830513 Paperback

Website(s): (publisher)

Language level: 1

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Said to be ages10 – 13 or 14, I would say more like 14-16

Rating: **** 4 stars

(5 stars=EXCELLENT; 4 stars=GOOD; 3 stars=FAIR; 2 stars=POOR; 1 star=VERY POOR; no stars=NOT RECOMMENDED)

Category: Fantasy (?)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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     Fletcher,Susan.  Shadow Spinner  (Published in 1998 by Jean Karl Books, an imprint of Athenium Books for Young Readers, a division of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York City, NY  10020).  Thirteen year old Marjan is a crippled orphan girl living with an older couple whom she calls Auntie Chava and Uncle Eli, though they are not relatives.  She and Auntie Chava go to the harem of Sultan Shahryar to sell beauty items to the girls, and Marjan tells an interesting story to the children who crowd around.  Shortly after that Marjan is taken to live in the harem because the Sultan’s wife Shahrazad is running out of tales, and it falls to Marjan to help the queen find new stories which the Sultan has never heard before. To do that, the girl is forced to undertake a dangerous and forbidden mission of sneaking from the harem, travelling the city, pulling tales from strangers, and bringing them back to Shahrazad.

     Can Marjan come up with enough stories to keep Shahrazad going?  Do the Sultan and his mother the Khatun find out what is going on?  And how will Marjan be treated if she is caught?  The book is a take-off on the story of Scheherazade from the One Thousand and One Nights.  There are references, of course, to the infidelity of the Sultan’s first wife and instances of drinking wine.  Marjan’s mother had committed suicide, and in addition to the Sultan’s killing of his previous wives, a harem girl named Soraya is murdered.  Some people may feel that the subject matter is not appropriate for their children, especially on the younger end of the recommended reading level.  However, the story is quite interesting, has a great topic, and is well written. It is not a Christian book, but it does have moral implications.

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