Tag Archives: fairy tales

Surprise, surprise

red jed alexanderYou think you know the Little Red Riding Hood story, and then someone throws a book out there with a twist.  Like this one.  Is the Wolf a good guy or a bad guy?  What’s Little Red up to?  And Grandma?  Does she have a plan or is she just as surprised as the rest of us?

Fun and wordless.  And check out Little Red and Rapunzel by Bethan Woollvin for another look at the classics while you’re at it.

Red by Jed Alexander

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A creepy one, if you like that kind of thing

hazel woodThere’s a moment in this book when I gasped and slammed the book shut.  Is that a good thing?

Shutting the book didn’t change the ending, of course, or what Alice was going to have to endure before the last page.  Melissa Albert masterfully weaves fairy tale storytelling with modern life, action movie visuals and the twists and turns of a thriller.  And maybe you can consider it a compliment that I had bad dreams a few nights while reading it.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

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Bears and libraries and funny little men

snow roseRe-imagining fairy tales can be a tricky business.  Some authors go for the updated, girl power versions.  Some go for the laughs.  Others reach back closer to the originals – more brooding, dark, even scary.

I guess this one does a little of all of that, although it’s more magical and serious than wacky or dark.  Rose and Snow are definitely girls with minds of their own.  Their father’s missing and their mother’s struggling, so they wander off to all corners of a mysterious forest, discovering a library of things and stories, an underground house, a boy who raises mushrooms, and a funny little man who’s really kind of awful, demanding, and mean.

It’s not a race to the end.  Things happen, and characters dip in and out of the story, but I never felt like I was being rushed or that the action was all there just to keep things ripping along.  That might actually be one of the things I liked about it, though, since it gave me time to think about which fairy tales were being woven together instead of being smacked in the face with it.

In the end, Rose and Snow triumph, the funny little man is ruined by his greed, and Father returns.  A happy ending, yes, but it felt more like a deserved happy ending than a story twisted to create one.  Nicely done.

Snow and Rose by Emily Winfield Martin

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Look out, Little Red! You’ve got competition.

rapunzel woolvanWill there ever be enough adaptations of fairy tales?

Not until Bethan Woollvin has illustrated every single one of them.

Following up one of my favorites from last year –Little Red­­—is no easy thing, but Bethan Woollvin has done it well, creating a Rapunzel who may be stuck in a tower for a while, but even without knowing the end, you know she’s not there for goodThis Rapunzel will outsmart the witch and ride off into the sunset, heading off into adventures we can’t even imagine.  Wonderful.

Rapunzel by Bethan Woollvin

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Love. Loss. Revenge. A little history. A little fantasy.

book of pearlIf you are looking for a straightforward action story, do not read this book.  If you are 100% anchored in reality, maybe take a pass.  If, however, you are on vacation, like to think about alternate realities, or don’t mind a love story which stretches far beyond the “normal” lives of two people, find a way to get your hands on The Book of Pearl.

I think it’s fair to say that Timothée de Fombelle has reached a status with me that almost touches Kathi Appelt.  I sought this book out, ordering a copy from England when I didn’t see it in the libraries around me. (Apparently, on further research, it won’t be released in the U.S. until Feb. 2018.  So that’s why…)  I loved de Fombelle’s Vango stories and have recommended them to several kids who like action but also appreciate good writing and story development and all kinds of twists and turns.  He’s not a popular author in the U.S., I don’t think, but maybe he should be.

And the extra work was worth it.  It’s a beautiful book, although maybe not one that you’d want to try to read in just a chapter a day.  There are a lot of characters to keep track of, characters who dip in and out and who might just seem to inhabit the fringes until suddenly they don’t.  There is evil and loss and quite a bit of sadness, but the joyful moments are almost luminous.  (I’m assuming the translators get some gold stars for that, too.)

It’s the perfect book for a long afternoon of quiet in a state forest.  Detach from technology and give it a try.  It’s not exactly a happy ending, but hey—he’s French.  Deal with it.

The Book of Pearl by Timothée de Fombelle

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Mother Goose – wannabe fairy or name-dropping gossip?

mother goose diaries“Have you noticed every village idiot with a quirk becomes national news?  Jack and Jill fell down the hill – so what?  Little Bo Peep lost her sheep – how is that my problem?”  (The Mother Goose Diaries)

Oh, Mother Goose, the secrets you know about the fairy tale world!  And now you’re visiting our reality and hanging out with everyone from Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Napoleon to Martin Luther King, Jr.

I must admit that I have read none of Chris Colfer’s other Land of Stories books.  I checked the first one out and didn’t get it read in time, and then the others piled up and I was just too lazy to face the whole thing.

This one looked like more of a companion piece, and it’s short, so it was perfect for the end of summer reading brain I’ve got.  This is not serious literature, people, but it’s a fun, silly ride through a somewhat embittered non-fairy’s life, and while time-traveling and speaking her mind, Mother Goose has a way of dropping a few words on social justice in, too.  I’m good with that.

The Mother Goose Diaries by Chris Colfer

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Fangirls and glass slippers

geekerellaA fondness for Star Trek (or Starfield).  A love of cons.  A pumpkin orange vegan food truck.  A fairy god-seamstress.  Evil stepmother.  Mean stepsisters.  Glass slippers.

It’s all here.  It might sound a little clichéd at first, but Geekerella does a splendid job of mashing all of these worlds together, creating a heroine who’s more than a Disney princess waiting around for a guy and including support characters who are fully formed and seem appropriately geeky or evil, depending on their role.  Elle is an outsider in an image-obsessed family, and her Prince Carmindor has challenges of his own.  It’s a sweet, modern re-telling, perfect for a summer afternoon, especially if you are a fan.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston

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A twist in a tale

snow-whiteWith updated fairy tales out in space (Interstellar Cinderella), full of cyborgs (Cinder) and rad girls (The Sleeper and the Spindle), you might think we don’t really need more of the genre.  However, the beauty of the classic folk tale is that there are so many directions you can go – times, places, settings.

Matt Phelan’s take on Snow White is set before and  during the Great Depression, which might not initially seem like a good fit.  But really, he doesn’t even have to work hard to get you to buy into it.  Snow is the daughter of a wealthy man who remarries just before the Crash, the seven little men are street kids, and the prince is a police detective.  It all falls together perfectly, and there’s a happy ending.  Along the way, I loved the way the characters’ facial expressions and simple language actually made the story feel bigger.  It works on many levels, and I think it can be enjoyed that way, too.

Snow White: a graphic novel by Matt Phelan

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