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Jessica Day George contest!

May 10, 2010

After meeting Jessica Day George, I can say as many nice things about her as I can about her books.

And the books, first and foremost, are wonderful treats, the very sort of books that make fiction popular.

And that’s exactly why The Rock Pool bloggers have decided to have another contest, and offer some of Jessica Day George’s books as the sought-after prizes.

The grand prize is an ADVANCE PROOF COPY of the book Princess of Glass, the sequel to Princess of the Midnight Ball. It won’t be released to the general reading public until the end of May. Did I mention this prize is SIGNED by the author herself? Well, it is. And if you win it, you’ll have read it (and posted your review of it here at The Rock Pool) before your friends and relations have even started scrambling to reserve their copies at their local libraries and independent bookstores.

The Grand Prize: you'll get it before anyone else.

The runner-up will win a copy of Dragon Flight, the sequel to George’s original dragon adventure story, Dragon Slippers (published as Dragonskin Slippers in the U.K.). This book is also SIGNED by the author, who is whimsical enough to add a green dragon stamp to her signature, as if we needed to be charmed further.

Finally, a merit prize for the entrant whose words dazzle me the most: my personal copy of Princess of the Midnight Ball, which was recently released in paperback. I loved it, but I was a courtly lover of this book and thus it is in near-new condition. I can give it away as a prize knowing I will get to read it again, when I purchase it for each of my favorite girl readers. I am still sighing a bit over the gallantry of Galen the Gardener and thinking just how fine it would be to learn to knit—this book is clever and fast-paced and not to be missed! If the frilly title gives you pause, please know Jessica Day George told me herself her original title for the story was Black Wool Chain, which was deemed unmarketable (but so fitting, once you’ve read the book). Princess of the Midnight Ball is also one of the America Library Association’s Best Picks for Young Adults. You know you want it.

Adventure, mystery, romance AND knitting!

Now that you know the prizes, here are the details about how you can win them:

Since Jessica Day George specializes in retelling old fairy tales with a few new twists, and because we like to read interesting contest entries, all you need to do to enter the contest is answer this question:

What is your favorite fairy tale and why?

Post your answer as a comment—include your email on the comment form and we’ll be able to contact you to send you your prize.


+1 (each) if you post this link on Facebook or Twitter

+2 if you post it on your blog (post the link in your comment)

+3 if you subscribe to this blog by email! (box is in the bottom right-hand corner of this page)

This contest is open INTERNATIONALLY, because mailing treats to YOU is worth paying for, no matter where you live. (Please don’t everyone live in Madagascar.) Closing date is Wednesday, MAY 19.

(DON’T MISS another fabulous contest featuring books by MAGGIE STIEFVATER!)

Now for more about the books and the author.

I met Jessica Day George a few weeks ago when I crashed a meeting of my grandmother’s Literary Arts Guild. George’s mother is also a member of this book group, and petitioned her to make a presentation to the ladies about her books and becoming a author.

My grandmother (who is so good to me and is my own personal fangirl) tipped me off. I loaded my boys in the car (“It’s OK to miss a couple days of school for this, Sweetie. We’re going to see gramma, AND meet an author!”) and made a road trip.

Being a former newspaper reporter, I checked to be sure each of my two pens worked properly before I went into the home where Jessica Day George was to address members of the Literary Arts Guild (and their gate-crashing granddaughters). I gave myself a stern reminder not to squeal or hop when George appeared, because while enthusiasm might be appreciated, utter starstruck nerdiness might not be.

I shouldn’t have been uptight. George is so approachable, so appealingly self-deprecating and so much of a giggling fangirl herself over fairy tales, writing, books and her family I was instantly at ease. Really, if we had met any other way, I’d expect we’d have regular lunch dates (but probably all her readers feel that way).

George’s writing career started the moment she realized she didn’t want to follow through with her childhood plans of becoming a teacher. That moment came courtesy of a horrible, burned-out fifth-grade teacher who sent George to the principal’s office solely because her first name is Jessica. Really.

“There was a note passed in class that said ‘to Jessica,’ but there were two Jessicas in my class,” George said. “So rather than trying to find out which one of us was supposed to get the note—it was the other Jessica—she sent us both to the principal’s office.”

This injustice made George reconsider her career options. When she read Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown, she loved it and began to wonder about writing.

“ ‘Is it her real job?’” George remembers asking herself. “ ‘That is a real job? You can write books about dragons and princesses with red hair and people will give you money?’ Well, apparently, they will!” George flips her own long red hair over her shoulder and giggles in a way that makes me think she definitely could have been suspected of passing notes in school, not that I’d ever side against her.

Still, her journey to publication and commercial success was long and tedious. For the benefit of the ladies of the Literary Arts Guild (and me) she shows off her carefully-scrapbooked collection of rejection letters, all 188 of them.

“I wrote a romance novel and was told they would publish it if I made it R-rated, but I couldn’t do it,” George said. “My mama raised me too good.”

At Brigham Young University in Utah, George studied Norwegian and German folktales and read many of them in their original languages. It took years (and about 188 rejection letters) for her to realize she should consider writing similar stories for a younger audience.

“I always wanted to write about young girls having adventures and being courageous and sticking up for themselves and fairy tales, but I didn’t,” she said. “My husband finally said, ‘Your books are depressing.’ He pointed me to all the fairy tales on my bookshelf and said ‘This is what you should be doing.’”

It was a last-ditch effort to get published that took George to a writers’ conference at BYU. There, in addition to meeting weird fantasy writers dressed like elves trying to re-write Lord of the Rings with female characters, she also made a new friend who invited her to meet an editor from Bloomsbury a few weeks later.

It was a match made in YA Lit heaven, and Bloomsbury bought and published George’s original fairy tale, Dragon Slippers in 2007. The critically acclaimed Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, a re-telling of a Norwegian folktale about a girl sent to live with a polar bear, followed. Follow-up stories in the dragon series, Dragon Flight and Dragon Spear have also been published by Bloomsbury. In 2009, a new spin on the Twelve Dancing Princesses arrived as Princess of the Midnight Ball, and in late May of 2010, the sequel Princess of Glass will be released.

In addition to writing, George is the mother of a young son and a daughter and likes to knit. “I get to put all the things I love into these books. There’s my dog, dresses, Germany. It’s all in there in some way,” she said.

Galen, the main character in Midnight Ball, is a former soldier-turned-gardener who is an expert knitter. His skills with magical needles and wool are part of what qualifies him to conquer the curse over the princesses, and the patterns for the key items he knits are included in the back of  the book.

A man who knits isn’t strange, George says. It was her grandfather who taught her to knit, and “men used to knit in England until the early 1800s because people believed it was too complicated and would overheat women’s brains.”

And once again, there’s that infectious giggle, this time accompanied by an eyeroll.

28 Comments leave one →
  1. May 10, 2010 3:18 am

    Sounds like fun! I just might enter the contest!

  2. May 10, 2010 5:14 am

    Sounds great!
    My favorite fairy tale is Beauty and the Beast because I think Belle is more than a damsel in distress. And she is a bookworm so… hehe.

    +1 tweet:

    +3 if you subscribe to this blog by email!

    Thank you for the giveaway!! 😀

  3. May 10, 2010 10:57 am

    Ooo this was so much fun to read! And the covers of the books alone make you want to read them.

    …I have book-crushes. Crushes on books. A lot. Is that weird? Wait, no, I am totally in good company!

    I’m going to answer the question anyway. Even though I can’t enter. You didn’t say it had to be a classical one, so I choose Ella Enchanted.

    I love Ella Enchanted to pieces. It’s one of those books where you just love the GIRL character, not where you have to swoon at the prince and ignore the princess. You read this book for ELLA. Who is hilarious and spirited and TOUGH. And a linguist. And she steals Hattie’s wig. And she slides down banisters and stops Char taking himself too seriously. And she gives him up for the sake of bigger things, endures his thinking ill of her, and…okay. So I could go on >_>

    Yes, thank you for fangirling giveaways!

  4. May 10, 2010 1:49 pm

    ever since i was a little girl, i had loved sleeping beauty. that is until i watched spirited away. spirited away is a perfect mix of horror fantasy and love. it balances trials with success, and each part of the movie has an artistic angle

  5. Rivenheart permalink
    May 10, 2010 3:23 pm

    I know that I am most likely banned from entering the contest, however I feel the need to comment!!!!

    I think I may be with Saya about this, or very nearly. Ella Enchanted has to be one of my absolute favorite fairy-tale retellings of all time. Of course, then if you read the Princess Tales by the same author (Gail Carson Levine), you may find that many of them possess the same wit and charm, even if they do not have quite as much time to develop a fabulous heroine. Perhaps another one of my favorites would be Beauty by Robin McKinley (the same authoress of The Hero and the Crown and the sequel to it; The Blue Sword). It’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, and it does have a very different taste to it than Ella Enchanted. It seems to have more of a dreamlike state to it, which is perfect for the story, mostly because it seems to be a dreamlike world. While Beauty (the heroine) does not have the exact same spunk as Ella, she is a charming character in her own right. She’s cheerful even when things go wrong, she’s long-suffering, and she has an excellent hand with animals; Even with a beast. :o) It’s one book that I would highly recommend, and it’s an absolutely enchanting story.

  6. Lindsey permalink
    May 10, 2010 9:06 pm

    My favorite fairy tale is Beauty and the Beast. Not just the Disney version, I love any telling of the story. I have so much in common with Belle (or Beauty depending on the version), and she’s so strong and empowering that it’s really inspiring.

    +3 if you subscribe to this blog by email!

  7. May 12, 2010 12:45 am

    Today, the library yielded to me a) a copy of Dragon Slippers, b) a copy of Dragon Flight, and c, d, e, f, g-…what? I like libraries. >_>

    And I realised I have to reread Ballad. And Linger. And finish the nine other books I’m in the middle of.

  8. Ticia permalink
    May 13, 2010 5:10 pm

    Yes, I am with the others who said “Beauty and the Beast”

    I like that it teaches to look beneath the surface of things (and people) and that how handsome or ugly someone looks is not an indicator of how good or bad a person is.

  9. Tora permalink
    May 13, 2010 9:17 pm

    My favorite fairy tail is “The Boy Who Cried Wolf”. It is a simple story that never gets old to me. I love reading to my 4 babies (ok the oldest is almost 8 so I should stop calling him baby) and asking them why the people didn’t trust the boy. I love books that teach a lesson so my kids learn these important things. Cannot wait to read Jessica’s book! I do also love all kinds of other books by the way. I have just read so many children’s books lately that they are on my mind.

  10. Amanda permalink
    May 13, 2010 10:26 pm

    I love Jack and the Beanstalk because it is such a fun fairy tale to tell and act out. . . Who doesn’t love a little Fee Fi Fo Fum?

  11. Debasmita permalink
    May 14, 2010 4:22 am

    I love the archetypal Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs…it’s such a sweet tale blending kindness,villainy,fantasy and realism in such a beautiful way!
    I also
    Blog mention- ‘Contests’ in the right sidebar)
    I also am am email subscriber of this blog 🙂

    Thanks for such a lovely giveaway,

  12. Samantha permalink
    May 15, 2010 5:51 am

    My favorite fairy tale is Alice in Wonderland. I just can’t get enough of this book, I can read it over & over and never get sick of it. I can get lost in Alice’s world everytime I read it, it captures your attention from the very first word and doesn’t let go until the very last word. Yet no matter how many times I read it I always come back to it again.

    +1 tweet:

    +3 if you subscribe to this blog by email!

  13. Emma permalink
    May 15, 2010 5:39 pm

    I love Sleeping Beuty i love the fairies(apart from the evil one):)

  14. Dedria permalink
    May 15, 2010 6:54 pm

    My favorite Fairy tale is the Little Mermaid because I loved that she was willing to give it her all to go after what she wanted. Thats a strong woman don’t you think 😀
    +3 subscribe
    +1 for facebook

  15. May 15, 2010 7:06 pm

    East of the Sun, West of the Moon. It’s Beauty and the Beast (with POLAR BEARS!) AND the girl gets to save the day after her mistake. Made of awesome (so is Jessica Day George, by the way. I sat next to her at dinner at the Provo Children’s Book Festival during its first year, though I doubt she remembers me now).


    The Peasant’s Wise Daughter
    The Twelve Huntsmen (talk about kick-butt girls!)
    The Six Swans/The Three Ravens

  16. Danielle Myers permalink
    May 15, 2010 7:46 pm

    Does Ella Enchanted count? Because I don’t particularly care for Cinderella. She let her stepsisters walk all over her, but Ella? Nah, Ella stole her siser’s wig and sold it to a baker! Ella fought off ogres! (ok, so maybe she just convinced them they weren’t hungry and they neeed to go to sleep, but come ON did Cinderella ever do that?) She hid spiders, bugs, and mice in her sister’s bed, because THAT’S what Hattie deserved. Plus she can bake a cake and tell Olive about a hundred stories at the same time. (Yupp real heroines multi-task!)
    So, that’s a few reasons why I think Ella Enchanted is the best fairy tale ever.
    ps I don’t live in Madagascar which I think you should consider a plus 🙂

    • Kaimalino permalink
      May 17, 2010 3:40 pm

      Oh, Danielle! I could never dispute Ella Enchanted’s awesomeness, but I have to tell you–you’re going to LOVE “Princess of Glass”! Jessica Day George told me she and a friend were talking about fairy tales that needed to be redone and Cinderella was at the top of their list because they didn’t like it very much. “Glass” is a spin on Cinderella except–get this–the Cinderella is shifty and untrustworthy and gets caught up in some pretty dark stuff, so you’re never completely rooting for her, even though she’s not exactly a villian. She’s not Ella, but she’s no doormat!

  17. Kinsey permalink
    May 17, 2010 1:12 am

    By “fairy tales” are we including myths? I’m a classics major (or will be as of next year when I transfer to a school that actually HAS a classics major… but see, I already think of myself as one, I had to backtrack after I wrote that and go “Wait, you’re not quite one yet…”) and as such I know (and love) so many ancient Greek myths.

    If we’re doing just Brothers Grimm/Hans Christian Anderson/etc fairy tales, then I have to say anything by Brothers Grimm. I have a penchant for dark stories and really, not much is darker than someone’s eyes getting scratched (and them blinded as a result) by brier thorns after getting pushed out of a tall tower. Even if their eyes are eventually healed.

    If we’re including myths, then I think the Iliad or the Odyssey. Hey, if people are including Alice in Wonderland and Ella Enchanted, I claim my right to use an epic poem.

    Why do my entries all turn out so long? Oi. Hope it gave you something interesting anyway.

    +1 Tweeted (I have no idea how to link to it, this is the first time I’ve ever tweeted, ever… it’s on @potteriyp, I hijacked my youtube collab channel’s twitter for it)
    +1 Facebook
    +2 Blog:
    I’m already subscribed to this blog… do I get the +3 for that or is it only for new subscribers/followers?

    Email is sunmono12790(at)yahoo(dot)com if it doesn’t show.

    • Kaimalino permalink
      May 17, 2010 3:46 pm

      Hey, Kinsey– I’ll give you +2 for loyalty. . . that bonus was meant for new subscribers, but we still love you.
      My seven-year-old is obsessed with Greek myths, primarily because they are gory enough to apall him but fantastical enough that they don’t really frighten him. And you should see my boys tell fairy tales with felt board characters–Rapunzel is a favorite because they make the little felt characters wail at each other and stumble around the felt board when they cannot find each other. And the Billy Goats Gruff, well, they get into the troll character perhaps a bit too much! Perhaps they are pre-Classics majors.

      • Kaimalino permalink
        May 18, 2010 10:15 pm

        OK, just kidding about the +2. Sorry to be arbitrary and disorganized (I’m new to this giveaway thing) but I realized after I posted this Kinsey’s not the only already-subscribed entrant and I don’t mean to be unfair. We’ll be clearer on details in the future. For now, let’s plan on +4 (yes! FOUR!) for prior subscribers and +3 for new subscribers. Looking forward to seeing who the lucky winners are!

  18. Alden Ash permalink
    May 17, 2010 4:14 am

    The Three Little Pigs, but I am not sure if it is technically a fairy tale. This story is so simple, and so adaptable for so many types of morals. Please count me in for the drawing. I will subscribe and link as well!

  19. Sally permalink
    May 18, 2010 4:26 pm

    I’m not sure I like any of the traditional fairy tales. But I just re-read Summers at Castle Auburn, by Sharon Shinn (I love all her YA stuff, but not her adult books). My favorite comfort read. Coming of age, clean, a bit of green witch, princes, regents, balls, cottages, favorite uncles; slavery, idiots in power, disillusionment.


  20. Emma Engstrom permalink
    May 19, 2010 3:43 am

    I like Dragon Flight by Jessica Day George. I like the descriptions of the pretty dresses and how they jump from dragon to dragon. I also enjoyed how they found Shardas and Velika and how they survived and conquered the other dragons. And I like how I can read it again and again without getting tired of the story!

  21. KeeNan permalink
    May 19, 2010 3:53 am

    I enjoyed this retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk by my husband. Here is what I wrote about it:

    “Last night, Little J asked Daddy to tell her a story. He was pretty sleepy, but he proceeded to tell her about Jack and the Beanstalk. He was struggling to stay awake and part way through – just as he had mentioned the goose that laid the golden eggs – he said something completely off the wall like: …and then after two whole years, the monsters legs still hadn’t healed.

    He was silent for a moment and then he said, Where did that come from?

    Anyhow, he managed to quickly finish up the story properly (at great effort). After he was done, Little J said in a sweet voice and very matter of factly: Daddy, I didn’t like that story.

  22. Kaimalino permalink
    May 20, 2010 10:55 pm

    Thank you all for your entries! I’m hoping to email winners and post the results this weekend so I can mail prizes on Monday morning!


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