cover image The Sleeper and the Spindle

The Sleeper and the Spindle

Neil Gaiman, illus. by Chris Riddell. Harper, $19.99 (64p) ISBN 978-0-06-239824-6

Always a superb spinner of tales, Gaiman presents a filigreed elaboration of Sleeping Beauty that, before long, reveals itself as something more. Three dwarves discover a realm in which everyone has fallen asleep, and they cross into the next country to warn its queen of the great plague that threatens her people. Alert readers won’t miss the hint to the queen’s identity: “Would I sleep, as they did?” she asks one of the dwarfs, who replies, “You slept for a year.... And then you woke again, none the worse for it.” Traveling to the cursed kingdom, the queen and dwarves encounter threatening zombie sleepers and more, but the storyline is still recognizable underneath the new details. It isn’t until the travelers penetrate the castle that things tilt sideways. Something new is going on, and readers will be carried to the end by the whirlwind force of Gaiman’s imagination. Riddell draws in pen and ink, eschewing color—save for select gold accents—and pouring his energy into myriad, spidery lines and delicate cross-hatching that recall Aubrey Beardsley’s eerie set pieces. It’s a genuine treat. Ages 13–up. [em](Sept.) [/em]