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Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Jane Yolen
Harcourt Brace Books, 192 pages

Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast
Jane Yolen
Jane Yolen has been called the Hans Christian Andersen of America and the Aesop of the 20th century because of her many fairy tales and story books. She has written over 150 books for children, young adults and adults, along with hundreds of stories and poems. She's a past-president of SFFWA and has been a member of the Board of Directors of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) since its inception.

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A review by Margo MacDonald

Well, I've got to say it -- this is simply the best collection of short stories for young adults that I have ever read.

While all of the twelve stories in this volume contain elements of the fantastic, the range of style, subject and emotional content is unexpectedly diverse. There are fairy stories and horror stories; stories about loss and stories about triumph; silly stories and quietly disturbing stories.

The one thing that remains constant to all these tales is strength of character. You won't find any wimpy heroines or heroes here. Each main character in each story has in them some kind of strength and each confronts in their own way the problems which arise. It makes them all very easy to like.

These are intelligent tales told for intelligent readers. The occasional references to other well-loved books (like The Hobbit and Alice In Wonderland) will mean all the more to readers who have already discovered these books, and may inspire others who haven't yet read them to seek them out. The author makes no excuses -- when these stories are eerie they are truly frightening and when they are sad, they are heartbreaking -- so be prepared. It's not a book to be read in one night; each story should be given time, both to be read and then savoured after the fact.

Yolen's style is deceptively simple. There is real depth lurking beneath the clean and polished exterior of these tales. And it is ultimately the truth of their emotional content which lifts these stories off the page and makes them feel rather more like shared experiences than fantasies.

Copyright © 1998 by Margo MacDonald

Margo has always been drawn toward fantasy and, at the age of 5, decided to fill her life with it by pursuing a career as a professional actress. Aside from theatre (and her husband), Margo's passion has been for books. Her interests are diverse and eclectic, but the bulk fall within the realm of speculative fiction. She tells us that her backlog has reached 200 books and she's ready to win the lottery and retire.

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