Blue in the Face: A Story of Risk, Rhyme, and Rebellion
By Gerry Swallow
Published January 12, 2016 by Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Reviewed from e-ARC
Elspeth is used to getting what she wants. After all, if her parents refuse, all she has to do is her patented holding-her-breath trick and they give in. Only this time, they don't. And this time, when Elsepth actually holds her breath until passing out, she awakes in a strange world. But does a part of her belong in this world?
I'm a big fan of retellings and this one suggested it would tackle nursery rhymes, something a bit more unusual than fairy tales. That was my favorite thing about this one, actually: the alleged truth behind the nursery rhymes. I liked that Swallow incorporated both well-known and lesser-known rhymes and made Old King Cole a terrible villain. I liked the notion that Elspeth was actually a nursery rhyme character who somehow crossed into our ordinary world, but her return to the nursery rhyme kingdom was prophesied. Elspeth herself is not a particularly enjoyable character, but the nursery rhyme characters she meets are quite delightful (I particularly loved The Cheese and the Three Blind Mice).
There aren't a lot of surprises in the story - Elspeth begins the book as a spoiled, self-involved brat but her exploits in the nursery rhyme kingdom help her grow and evolve. The "it was all a dream" ending (or was it?) was also kind of unsurprising, but I think it will make for great discussion.
Overall, a fun take on nursery rhymes. Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via NetGalley.