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The Tale of Steven - Book Review

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by Marisa Quinn-Haisu (subscribe)
My name is Marisa. I am a fiction writer, a blogger, and a freelance journalist.
Published January 10th 2020
Who gets to tell the Tale of Steven?
The Tale of Steven, Rebecca Sugar, Steven Universe
Sugar, Michalka and Wang . Abrams Books.

The Tale of Steven is a children's picture book based on the Emmy award-winning American animated television series Steven Universe. The Tale of Steven was written by Rebecca Sugar, a New York Times bestselling author and the creator of Steven Universe, and it was illustrated by Elle Michalka and Angie Wang. The book was published by Abrams and released as a hardcover on 8 October 2019. It is 48 pages long and suitable for children between 5 and 10 years of age. The Tale of Steven is based on the 44-minute episode of Steven Universe called "Change Your Mind" which aired on 11 January 2019. "Change Your Mind" aired as the final episode of the original TV series and concluded the Pink Diamond storyline. It formed part of a special television event called "Diamond Days" and was advertised as "Battle of the Heart and Mind."

The Tale of Steven, Rebecca Sugar, Steven Universe
Once upon a time… there was a silly Pink Diamond

The Tale of Steven was designed to be a companion book to Steven Universe and as a keepsake for Steven Universe fans. It is written and illustrated in the same style as the 2016 bestselling Steven Universe companion book The Answer. To read my review of The Answer click here. This review will contain spoilers for the Steven Universe television show and The Tale of Steven. The Tale of Steven is an interactive reading experience unlike any other. The book has multiple narrators who each have their own bias and perspective when it comes to telling Steven's story. The narrators are White Diamond, Pink Diamond and Steven Universe himself. There are multiple different ways to read this book. The reader is encouraged to read the book from lots of different angles so they can consider the different points of view of each of the narrators.

The Tale of Steven, Rebecca Sugar, Steven Universe
Pink Diamond ran away from her Homeworld to live on the planet Earth and transformed herself into Rose Quartz

White Diamond appears in the book upside down and argues to the reader that they are reading the book wrong and encourages them to flip it up side down. White's version of Steven's story paints Pink as a silly, spoiled creature, who was impossible to understand, ignore and control. White thought it was her job to control Pink and to resist her influence and to not indulge in her whims. When Pink runs away from her and the rest of the Diamonds to live as a Rose Quartz on the planet Earth, White thinks she is being foolish. She doesn't understand what would drive Pink to want to run away from her life as a Diamond. Rose's point of view is presented in rose-patterned speech bubbles that you have to turn the book upward to read. Rose appears in the book and tells the reader that they do not have to listen to White because this is not her story.

The Tale of Steven, Rebecca Sugar, Steven Universe
It was on planet Earth that Rose found love and decided to give up her existence to create a half-human child who would be called Steven Universe

Steven's part in the story is the only viewpoint that looks "right" to the reader. It is not upside down or flipped around. Steven's thoughts about his mother are interesting to read. He never new Rose Quartz but he has grown up hearing amazing things about her. He knew that she wanted to become human and to give up her existence to create him and that as long as he has her Gem she cannot exist. The more Steven learns about his mother, the more frightened he becomes. He starts to question his own identity and that he might not be himself at all. Is his mother still alive inside his Gem? Is he her? Is she him? It's so confusing!

The Tale of Steven was a really disorientating book to read but that's what makes it so unique. Steven himself even says in the book that there is no "right" way to read the book and that there are several stories from different angles in it. The message from Rose in the book is for Steven to be able to make and tell his own story and to believe in himself. Steven doesn't need people to respect him or to love him, he just wants people to know him, all they have to do is change their mind about who they think he is. The book is dedicated to trans and gender-expansive kids which was a really nice touch and fitted the story well.

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Why? Once upon a time, a gem named Pink Diamond gave up her existence to create a half-human child named Steven Universe. Steven inherited her Gem so does that make him her? Or is she him? Steven’s Tale is a unique one with multiple different viewpoints
Cost: $19.99
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