By Taylor Anderson, MS/LIS student and CCB Volunteer
As times change, tastes in the way we tell stories change. The sensibilities of modern times often differ from the times when fairytales were first told or when classic literature was first penned. The books below offer something fresh to an old story- a new setting, a new perspective or culture is explored, or the format is updated to be read in a novel form as opposed to oral tradition. Check out a retelling for the comfort of an old tale with something new.
Johnston, E. K. A Thousand Nights. Hyperion, 2015 325p
ISBN 978-1-4847-2227-5 $18.99 Gr. 9-12
A loose novelization of “A Thousand and One Nights” with a strong sense of place in the ancient Middle East and a compelling female voice and a love story that develops in a believable way.
Hale, Shannon. The Goose Girl. Bloomsbury, 2003 388p
ISBN 1-58234-843-X $17.95 Gr. 6-10
A retelling of a lesser known Grimm’s tale serves as the basis for the first novel in Shannon Hale’s “Books of Bayern” series. This is a great example of a retelling that tells the original story, but breathes new depth into the tale through the form of the novel. It also serves to introduce a series of books that are fairy tale inspired, but don’t draw from specific tales.
George, McKelle. Speak Easy, Speak Love. Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2017 [432p].
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-256092-6 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-256094-0 $8.99. Gr. 7-10
A retelling of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” set in a New York speakeasy during prohibition. The YA novel serves as a medium to deepen some of the Bard’s female characters in a fun and lighthearted setting.
Hinds, Gareth, ad. Beowulf; ad. and illus. by Gareth Hinds. Candlewick, 2007 118p.
Trade ed. ISBN 0-7636-3022-5 $21.99
Paper ed. ISBN 0-7636-3023-3 $9.99 Gr. 7-10
A reformatting of the early English work from epic poem to a superhero-style graphic novel breathes new life into an old story for a new generation of both teens and students of literature.
White, Kiersten. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein. Delacorte, 2018 [304p].
Library ed. ISBN 978-0-525-57797-3 $28.99
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-525-57794-2 $24.99.
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-525-57795-9 $11.99. Gr. 9-12
This retelling of the classic novel Frankenstein gives the story a distinct female voice by shifting the perspective from Dr. Victor Frankenstein to his love interest, Elizabeth Lavenza. In addition to retelling the sci-fi novel from a female perspective White delves into the complexities of relationships in author Mary Shelley’s era.
Napoli, Donna Jo. Zel. Dutton, 1996 [152p]
ISBN 0-525-45612-0 $15.99. Gr.7-12
A retelling of Rapunzel delves into the dynamics of the relationships ,with the modern lens and the psychological effects of characters living through fairy tale situations lending a feeling of realism to a magical situation.
Phelan, Matt. Snow White; written and illus. by Matt Phelan. Candlewick, 2016 [216p]
ISBN 978-0-7636-7233-1 $19.99. Gr. 4-6
A retelling of Snow White in brilliant near-monochromatic drawings with meaningful pops of color, this is a graphic novel that feels like a silent movie. It has been reset in a 1920s New York film-noir style detective scene. A graphic novel that, though while not wordless, chooses to show rather than tell with its soft drawings that don’t shy away from the grittiness of the noir genre.
Caine, Rachel. Prince of Shadows: A Novel of Romeo and Juliet. New American Library, 2014. 351p. ISBN 978-0-451-41441-0 $17.99. Gr. 9-12. A new perspective on Romeo and Juliet from the perspective of Romeo’s friend and cousin Benvolio and Romeo’s first love interest Rosaline. Adding supernatural elements fills in some of the plot holes in a creative an intriguing manner that keeps the spirit of Shakespeare alive.
Morrison, Megan. Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel. Levine/Scholastic, 2015 [384p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-545-63826-5 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-545-64270-5 $17.99. Gr. 5-8
Weaving together the story of Rapunzel with hints of Jack and the Beanstalk, this middle grade novel is an adventure tale that explores the complex themes of familial love and forgiveness without sacrificing wit and fun.
Vande Velde, Vivian. The Book of Mordred. Houghton, 2005 [352p]
ISBN 0-618-50754-X $18.00. Gr. 7-12
A story of the Arthurian legend that paints Mordred in a sympathetic light through the woman who impacted him the most as well as highlighting Mordred’s virtues and Arthur’s flaws showing the complexities within the legend. An engrossing read reminding readers that even in fiction good and evil aren’t as clear as they may at first seem.
Christo, Alexandra. To Kill a Kingdom. Feiwel, 2018 [352p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-250-11268-2 $18.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-250-11269-9 $9.99. Gr. 7-10
A gritty tale based on both “The Little Mermaid” and mythologies about the brutality of sirens with original world building thrown in. This book is good for teens who want an edgy take on the classic children’s tale.
Levine, Gail Carson. The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre. Harper/HarperCollins, 2017 [400p].
Library ed. ISBN 978-0-06-207467-6 $17.89.
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-207466-9 $16.99.
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-265821-0 $9.99. Gr. 4–6
A novel that blends the story of Rapunzel with historically based themes of persecution and otherness, this is a book that explores some dark ideas within a fairy tale world where a happy ending is expected and delivered.
Meyer, Marissa. Cinder. Feiwel, 2012. [400p]. (The Lunar Chronicles)
ISBN 978-0-312-64189-4 $17.99. Gr. 7-10.
The classic Cinderella story with a futuristic cyberpunk setting. While the story is familair, the characters are compelling and the setting holds great interest for science fiction and fantasy fans.
Zoboi, Ibi. Pride. Balzer + Bray, 2018 [304p].
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-256404-7 $17.99.
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-256407-8 $9.99. Gr. 7-10
A remix of Pride and Prejudice that explores the class aspects of romance from the original in a modern setting with a strong Afro-Latina voice. A book rich in culture and setting and compelling to both readers who have fallen in love with Mr. Darcy and those who are new to the story.