Once upon a time in Miami, there lived a boy who dreamed of making shoes... Aside from the whole Miami bit, it sounds like it could be straight out of Hans Christian Andersen or the Brothers Grimm, right? Well, Alex Flinn is leading the charge (or at least she's up there in the front lines, holding a really big heraldic banner or something) in transforming fairy tales for the modern age, mashing them up to create fun new stories. With their origins in older fairy tales, books written by Alex Flinn always feel like you've read them before, back when you fell into her targeted demographic (or maybe it's just that she makes anyone with an appreciation for whimsy believe that they are, once again, in her targeted demographic), and that makes them feel cozy. Cloaked is her latest and it's quite charming. Johnny and his mother run the shoe repair shop in a posh South Beach hotel, across from his best friend Meg and her family's coffee counter. Dad disappeared years ago and with financial difficulties aplenty, Johnny and his mom work night and day to keep themselves afloat. His dream is to become a famous shoe designer and he spends his free time (or what little there is of it between repair jobs) sketching masterpieces on heels. He's no flighty kid, though; Johnny knows that there's no such thing as magic and it's hard work that will get him someplace... hard work and maybe a lucky break. Enter the much-photographed partying Princess Victoriana. If she got photographed wearing his shoes, he could launch his career and she's scheduled to check in to his hotel, but how to get her the shoes? As the hotel prepares to cater to the princess's every whim, nothing could prepare Johnny for the Princess singling him out to ask for his help. She invites him up to her room and tells him a secret: her brother, the crown prince, has been turned into a frog by a witch. If the princess agrees to marry the evil son of a rival monarchy, the witch will change the prince back -- otherwise, the prince is doomed to be a frog until he's kissed by a girl with love in her heart. The princess insists that she can't even trust her personal bodyguards, as she fears that one of them is spying on her, and so she needs the help of one who is hard-working and loyal. Johnny is about ready to declare her totally insane when he accidentally makes use of a magic cloak given to him by the princess which transports him to any location he wishes. Suddenly, the world is full of magic and used-to-be-humans turned animals -- and Johnny will need a great deal of help from six swans, a rat, a fox, and his best friend Meg if he hopes to save the prince and achieve happily ever after... but is "happily ever after" even close to what he might expect? For Cloaked, Flinn draws upon a number of classic fairy tales, many of which have fallen out of popular knowledge: "The Elves and the Shoemaker," "The Frog Prince," "The Six Swans," "The Golden Bird," "The Salad," and "The Fisherman and His Wife." It's unfortunate that the Disney movie The Princess and the Frog came out before this book, but so it goes. Little girls already knew the whole princess-kissing-a-frog outline and this simply returns to the roots of the tale. The other stories are threaded in for a delightful mix of flight and fancy, with the ultimate moral being that it really is hard-work and a good heart that will triumph over all. Meg is a wonderfully competent girl while Victoriana proves to have a great deal more substance than the paparazzi would have folks believe. Johnny is a winning hero, even if he isn't the stereotypical male lead that one tends to find in YA novels. (He isn't a brooding paranormal creature, for one.) Johnny is a young man who means well and works hard... just the kind of guy that those of us older than the intended teen readers would encourage our younger selves to sigh over, as he's sweet and caring even if he (like most boys) can be a little clueless. He's the stereotypical male best friend who too often doesn't get the girl... cute and sweet with a heart of gold and his only real stumbling comes from (a) trying to do the right thing or (b) having issues expressing his real feelings. Ah if only they were all so easy in real life... and all liked shoes to this degree. Overall, the best description for Cloaked really is "charming," and I hope young adult/older-than-young-adult readers agree. This book is perfectly fine for even the younger teens, as there isn't really any objectionable content. Flinn's got a knack for updating classics (just check out Beastly, her previous book which is being made into a movie that hit theaters this past weekend) and I'm already looking forward to her next creation. Please note that this isn't an entirely impartial review, as this book factors in to my professional world, but this is still a truthful review written in my personal space, so weight my opinion as you will.
About This Item
I'm not your average hero. I actually wasn't your average anything. Just a poor guy working an after-school job at a South Beach shoe repair shop to help his mom make ends meet. But a little magic changed it all.
It all started with the curse. And the frognapping. And one hot-looking princess, who asked me to lead a rescue mission.
There wasn't a fairy godmother or any of that. And even though I fell in love along the way, what happened to me is unlike any fairy tale I've ever heard. Because before I knew it, I was spying with a flock of enchanted swans, talking (yes, talking!) to a fox named Todd, and nearly trampled by giants in the Keys.
Don't believe me? I didn't believe it either. But you'll see. Because I knew it all was true, the second I got cloaked.
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Once upon a time in Mi...
Summary: Johnny has wo...
Summary: Johnny has worked at his mother's hotel shoe repair shop for as long as he can remember, and he'll probably continue working there for the rest of his life. Johnny's mediocre adolescence is spiced up when a gorgeous foreign princess comes to stay at the hotel and offers him a way out of the rut he's stuck in. That is, if he'll find her brother-a prince who happens to have been turned into a frog. Armed with a magical transporting cloak, Johnny and his best friend Meg embark on a crazy adventure that changes their lives forever. My thoughts: I'd like to start off by giving Alex Flynn mad props for writing a paranormal book with a male narrator. You don't see that very often! Johnny's voice was well written and believable, and though he might have been a bit dense when it came to romance, it was very fun to read the story through his perspective. Though the premise of Cloaked sounds cheesy, the book was actually quite good. Alex Flynn effortlessly blended classic fairy tales with the modern world, and I enjoyed picking out the parallels to tales such as "The Frog Prince" and "The Six Swans". The whole story had a fantastical, magical feel to it, and it was easy to suspend disbelief for the sake of joining Johnny on his journey. Cloaked was quite a wild ride-there were so many different parts of the story to keep track of, but everything was tied up nicely in the end. Each part of Johnny's adventure had its own humor and purpose. I suppose to sum up my feelings of Cloaked, I'll throw down a few adjectives: exciting, fun, imaginative, and hilarious. Definitely check this modern fairy tale out! It's got everything-a princess, a frog prince, talking animals and an evil witch (if only there had been some moments of spontaneous song)!
Review originally publ...
Review originally published on my blog: AWordsWorth.blogspot.com When you pick up an Alex Flinn fairy tale, you know it's going to be fun and fast reading. Cloaked is no different, though nailing down that one particular fairy tale its retelling is a little impossible. You see, this is a combination of fairy tales, in one big, glorious, modern mix-up! The main theme is "The Frog Prince," but "The Elves and the Shoemaker" is also a key player, as are "The Twelve Swans." There are also sprinklings of so many other fairy tales too, I loved it! It all starts when Johnny happens to meet the Princess of Aloria - Victoriana - somewhat by accident. (He's a humble teenager, repairing shoes for the wealthy patrons of a swanky hotel in Florida, not exactly the type of guy management wants hobnobbing with royalty). The Princess sees something she likes, and enlists Johnny's help in finding her brother - who has been turned into a frog by a wicked witch. After a bit of convincing, involving promises of marriage and wealth, not to mention experimenting with the magic traveling cloak, Johnny finds himself on an impossible quest. Wandering around the Keys, talking to animals-who-were-once-humans and passing (or failing) test after test, Johnny soon discovers that there is so much more to the world than what meets the scientific eye. And once his best friend Meg (who has plenty of secrets of her own) joins the quest, Johnny begins to take a closer look at all aspects of life - trying to see what lies beneath the surface. As with any good fairy tale, there is a happy ending. Or several happy endings, since there are multiple fairy tales taking place simultaneously. The course of true love never did run smooth, and what's a good story without some unexpected twists and turns and "oh my gosh!"-moments right at the end? This was a fun, lighter read than Beastly, but I enjoyed the mish-mash of fairy tale goodness.
Pages: 341 Release Dat...
Pages: 341 Release Date: February 8th, 2011 Date Read: 2011, March 24th - 26th Received: Own Rating: 4.5/5 stars Recommended to: 14+ (This is an old review I wrote for Fairy Tale Fortnight in April, so the layout isn't updated...but rest assured, my feelings are the same!) Summary - Johnny is a pretty normal guy. He lives in Florida and fixes shoes for a living. Or really, he fixes shoes not just as a living but to pay rent, phone bills, electricity bills, for food, etc. You know, all the every day things your father usually manages to pay for. Johnny's father would pay for theses things - but he disappeared when Johnny was a toddler. Ever since, Johnny's been the man of the house, working to feed and care for his sweet mother who in turn works hard to provide for him. Johnny would love to become a shoe designer, make millions of dollars, and give his mother the life of ease. But, how likely is that to happen? Unless you meet the princess of Aloria, who is filthy rich, thinks you're a good boy, and consequently wants you to find the Prince of Aloria who has been turned into a frog by an evil witch...in return for her hand in marriage and millions of dollars and a life of ease. Yah...that can be a hard one to pass up. ___________________________________________ My thoughts - Once again, Alex Flinn knocks us all out with a fantastical fairytale that makes you feel like you've never read a fairytale before in your life. Talk about original. I mean, this book was so original it was almost strange. It was neat, though! From the ear-piece that lets you talk to animals, to the cloak that transports you to wherever you want to go; from the princess who (apparently) wants to marry the boy from South Beach, to the witch who has a grudge and a slightly evil but really predictable plan. It was awesome, on all levels. For a while I thought the Cloak would be like the one from 12 Dancing Princesses, one that makes you invisible. But no, it was totally different. And the ear piece was a neat idea and added a "technological" magic twist to the story. There were a few other fairytales thrown in there that only added, built, and made the story more enjoyable. The animals that Johnny meets give him quests to test his loyalty and to make sure he's really going to save the prince, which made everything feel a bit more "old fashioned". This all played in to create an atmosphere that was highly original and definitely Alex Flinn. I was hooked from the first pages. Favorite character (character thoughts) - Meg is such a great character that I just have to say that she's my favorite. She was strong, honest, and just lovely. She was deserving and totally inspired me. She and Johnny's relationship was hilarious at times and sweet at others. Everything about her made the story all the more lovable. And while she's my favorite, I can't move on without pointing out my honorable mention, Johnny. He was quite a character as well. He compliments Meg perfectly. He's a klutz (hilarious!), a doubter, and he doesn't follow instructions well. I found that these things, on top of the fact that he's honest, reliable, and loving, made him a great character. I loved that he couldn't always see what was right in front of him. I love a good, teasing love story where you just want to yell at the guy - "SHE'S RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU, STUPID!" Also, raise your glass to Alex Flinn herself for creating a character like Johnny who is, specifically, a completely different person than his competitors, Kyle from Beastly and Jack from A Kiss in Time. I found this extremely refreshing, as I'm sure you will. Pretty much the only downer in this book for me: I found that I didn't really, at all, like Victoriana, the Alorian princess. She was funny in parts, but I thought she was ubelievable. I couldn't picture her as clearly as the other characters, even her brother Philippe, and I couldn't hear the accent in the way that Alex Flinn typed it up. It just didn't click for me...but maybe that's just me. Favorite aspects/scenes - There are too many aspects of this story to choose from, so I will name as many as I can without spoiling anything for you. The love story was soooo amazing and much more passionate than that of A Kiss in Time. It was believable and well-developed and gave me strong, gutsy butterflies so many times I lost count. The tests Johnny has to go through to gain information are also a favorite part. The lessons Johnny learns...the twist that involves the animals...the amazing shoe quotes that easily become a lovable part of the story. And the perfect ending to a great story. Some favorite scenes: The sunset scenes with Johnny and Meg........ And I was totally taken by the perfectly smooth scene in the beginning during which Johnny realizes that the Cloak and the ear-piece are really magic. It was amazingly well-told and Johnny's reaction to the magic was normal and hilarious and pretty much perfect. Bravo to Alex Flinn! One phrase to sum up this book (final thoughts) - Wonderfully original are the words that come to mind when I think of Cloaked. I could not help but fall in love with this book - and I hope you will, too! I recommend this book highly! For the parents: A few kisses, with little or no description. A handful of underhand jokes directed toward girls, and a couple of direct comments. None are explicit. A pretty darn clean book. Definitely can be read by a younger audience than Alex Flinn's previous fairytales. I'd say 14 years old is a good age to start. :)
Not bad at all. I wasn...
Not bad at all. I wasn't expecting a whole lot, because even though I liked Beastly, it wasn't super awesome. But Cloaked was pretty cool. I really liked how Alex Flinn wove so many fairy tales into one story. Johnny is a pretty cool hero too, so that was a plus. Meg was, well, stereotypical. But okay otherwise. Mostly I just enjoyed how Johnny kept having to go in different directions doing fifteen thousand different tasks just to get a frog. And like I said, I love all the different fairy tales. I'm a sucker for fairy tales.
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