I read these two beautiful books last week and then spent an inordinate amount of time trying to track down an article I read months ago about the difference between European fairy tales (from the Brothers Grimm all the way to Harry Potter) and the fantasy literature that comes out of America. It was an utterly fascinating read, and I'm kicking myself for not saving it to share, especially in light of both of these books.
Let me start with the Ingrid Law book. Switch is the third in her series, following Savvy and Scumble. My middle sister, who has a thing for unusual super heroes (possibly because she is one), introduced me to this series, and I was thrilled to find the third installment at our library. The series centers around a family who, generation after generation, discovers unusual gifts on thirteenth birthdays. One child has the ability to disappear, one a connection with storms and water, one has the gift of being perfect. Some of the gifts are quirkier and more unexpected than others. I loved the emphasis on family, courage, and loving the gifts that you've been given. And they are very (very, very) American in their magic.
I lucked out and found Savvy at a used bookstore last week for $3 and bought it without a second thought. I am very much looking forward to reading this whole series to the kids in a couple more years.
Up next, Peace Like a River by Lief Enger is quite possibly being added to my favorite book list. I placed it with Switch because, even though it doesn't necessarily have magic of the usual kind, it does explore the supernatural. The story of a family whose eldest son shoots and kills two intruders sounds a bit morbid, but it was incredibly thought-provoking and discussable. I could've talked about this book for hours, but I resigned myself to sharing my favorite quote with the Man (and now with you): "Fair is whatever God wants to do." And this book has God doing and not doing quite a few things.
At any rate, if you are a fantasy buff wanting to explore non-European options, these are two good choices. And if neither of these look appealing, you may want to consider the magical realism genre embraced by a lot of Latin American authors. My personal favorites are Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende.
Regardless, I'd love to hear your thoughts on how Old World fairy tales differ from those coming out of the Americas, and if you bring in African and Asian--or even Australian! fairy tales, I'll take those too. But if you try to cite Twilight as your source, I will permanently ban you from the blog. Just being honest and stating my opinion. Because honesty and over-opinionated-ness are very American qualities, and when in Rome...