Thursday, August 21, 2014

"The Stepsister's Tale"

Tracy Barrett is the author of twenty works of fiction and nonfiction for young readers, most recently The Stepsister’s Tale (Harlequin Teen), Dark of the Moon (Harcourt), and The Sherlock Files series (Henry Holt). Barrett was the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Regional Advisor for the Midsouth from 1999 to 2009 and is currently SCBWI’s US Regional Advisor Coordinator. She was awarded the SCBWI Work-in-Progress Grant in 2005. She holds an A.B. in Classical Archaeology from Brown University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Medieval Italian Literature from UC Berkeley. She lives in Nashville, TN, where until recently she taught Italian at Vanderbilt University.

Barrett applied the Page 69 Test to The Stepsister’s Tale and reported the following:
Page 69 of The Stepsister’s Tale is the end of a chapter, so it isn’t a full page:
was scowling and dragging his feet. The man picked up his cup again, and the boy stopped short. The man pushed him forward with an impatient, “Go on.”

The boy raised his eyes but didn’t look Jane directly in the face. “Thank you for offering—” His father nudged him in the back, and he hastily added, “Miss. But I don’t care for any.” He looked at his father as though to say, “Satisfied?”

Jane knew that the boy was feeling terribly uncomfortable, and she tried to keep “Serves you right” out of her voice as she answered, “I don’t either. My sister usually makes the tea, but I did it this time and I don’t really know how. I’m afraid it isn’t very good.”

As though surprised at her friendly tone, the boy finally looked at her, and he broke into a reluctant grin, showing white teeth. He instantly quenched the smile, but for that moment he had appeared friendly, and Jane could see humor in his dark eyes. The man gulped down his tea. The two of them returned to work, and Jane returned to the house, thinking she would never understand the people of the woods.
This is actually a pretty important part of the book, where Jane (the older of Cinderella’s two stepsisters) meets the boy who—well, never mind what he will do or be to Jane; I’ll let you find that out for yourself!

Jane and her sister, Maude, are high-born but impoverished sisters whose father drank and gambled away most of their money before dying. Their widowed mother, who refuses to accept that they no longer live a life of ease and luxury, marries a man with a spoiled daughter (Isabella) who whines when asked to do her share of the work necessary to keep things afloat. Will (the scowling boy) is the son of a woodcutter who resents the people who live in the big house. All of them—including Isabella—will learn that not everything is at it seems.

You can learn a lot about their characters here. Will is resentful but can’t help showing his friendlier side, much as he’d like to hide it, and Jane is awkward around strangers, as her mother keeps them away from people she considers their inferiors—which includes just about everybody.
Visit Tracy Barrett's website, Facebook page, and Twitter perch.

Read--Coffee with a Canine: Tracy Barrett & Pericles.

--Marshal Zeringue