Kids Article

Tales as Old as Time, Brand New Again

Retellings of fairy tales and classic stories are one of the biggest trends in YA fiction right now. I’m a huge sucker for them and will read anything that you tell me “is based on [story you know], except this version has [new cool thing like cyborgs or steampunk or zombies or high school].” From Shakespeare to Austen, the Brothers Grimm to Gatsby, the breadth of source material and the number of ways to remix it ensures there’s something for everyone. Plus, multiple retellings of the same story can have different emphases: they can highlight different sides of characters or comment on problematic elements (sexism, homophobia, racism, and so on) in the original source material. Retellings throughout history are fascinating commentaries on the evolution of discourse around a certain topic, work, or author. Or, if you’re not interested in all that academic stuff, they’re also just plain fun to read.

Here are a few of our favorites! Come to the store and check out the YA wall for all that the wild world of retellings has to offer.

Cruel Beauty Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062224736
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen - January 28th, 2014

For as long as she can remember, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her village as part of a deal her father struck. She grew up training to kill him on her wedding day without a second thought. But, now that the day is here and she lives in his castle as his wife, the cruelty of the family she left behind and the confusing behavior of her new husband leave her questioning everything. This vivid retelling of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST will keep you guessing as you move through fantastic settings and emotional peaks and valleys alongside Nyx, her husband, and a mysterious new friend.

Dorothy Must Die Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062280671
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperTorch - April 1st, 2014

When a tornado sweeps Amy Gumm away from her tiny Kansas town to Oz, she's thrilled to escape the drudgery of life at home. But the Oz she lands in differs significantly from the movies and the books. As Amy makes her way down the famous yellow brick road, she learns that the heroes of the book have become twisted versions of themselves: the Scarecrow performs terrible operations, sewing magical creatures together; the Tin Man now runs the Emerald City's secret service, terrorizing all who come across his path; and the Cowardly Lion is now a vicious animal feeding on the fears of his prey. And why have they changed? To serve the great and terrible Dorothy, who is using the ruby slippers to steal all the magic in Oz. To save them all, Amy must join the forces of wickedness and Dorothy must die. Fast-paced, clever, and addictive, the first book in this new series will excite young and old readers.

Cinder: Book One of the Lunar Chronicles Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250007209
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Square Fish - January 8th, 2013

If you're a fan of the fairytale jumble of ABC's Once Upon A Time, this series is for you. The first book in the wildly popular Lunar Chronicles introduces us to Cinder, a half-cyborg, half human girl who makes her living as a mechanic and handy-woman for her wretched stepmother and sisters. In a world stricken with plague, under constant threat of Lunar invasion, and with a very handsome and single prince, Cinder’s story is action-packed on all fronts. Will her sister fall victim to the plague before an antidote is discovered? Will Prince Kai find out she’s a cyborg and reject her? Will the evil Lunar Queen Levana use her powers of persuasion to take over the world? Not if Cinder has anything to do with it. Each book in the Lunar Chronicles brings in a different classic fairy tale: check out SCARLET for a fresh take on Little Red Riding Hood and CRESS for a hacker version of Rapunzel.


The Chaos of Stars Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062135926
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Teen - September 10th, 2013

Tsarina Cover Image
ISBN: 9781595146939
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Razorbill - February 27th, 2014

Man Made Boy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780670786206
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking - October 3rd, 2013

In Defense of Quiet Books

It will be no surprise to anyone who keeps up with kids’ literature these days that there are a lot of LOUD books on our shelves. When I say loud, I mean that there’s a lot going on: Mysteries! Magic! Creatures! Adventures! Exploring! Bright colors! Snark! Trilogies! Sagas! Loudness in and of itself isn’t bad. However, I hope that the popularity of these books doesn’t halt the demand for quieter books; reads that focus on saving a friendship, not saving the world. It’s easy to assume that reluctant readers will only be captivated by plots laden with bells and whistles and explosions, but sometimes a simpler book with which your child can deeply identify will make a stronger impact. I’ve read several quiet kids’ books lately that captivated and refreshed me after reading about the apocalypse and complicated treasure hunts for months. Here are some of my favorites:

Peggy: A Brave Chicken on a Big Adventure Cover Image
ISBN: 9780544259003
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Clarion Books - March 4th, 2014

Here’s the story of a chicken named Peggy who, thanks to a particularly strong gust of wind, is blown from her quaint life on the farm into the bustle of the big city. The book illuminates her explorations with beautiful, gentle watercolor illustrations integrated with soft-focus photographs. You’ll want to read this one all the way to the end for maximum enjoyment of Peggy’s story, which doesn’t feature twists or puns or gimmicks. She’s just a chicken exploring a city, captivated by the people, and finding her way home. This is the kind of book I would have requested day after day during mom-snuggle-book time, a staple in my house when I was growing up.

The Battle of Darcy Lane Cover Image
ISBN: 9780762449484
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Running Press Kids - April 22nd, 2014

I picked up this book because of my love for Tara Altebrando’s collaboration with quiet book champion Sara Zarr, ROOMIES. THE BATTLE OF DARCY LANE is Altebrando’s first middle grade novel and it is a gem! I read it in one day, and when I wasn’t reading, I was complaining to my coworkers about all the feelings this beautiful little book induced in me. It’s the first day of summer and with a new girl on the block, Julia and Taylor’s friendship just isn’t what it used to be. I felt for Julia in her confusion at the other girls’ mean behavior, her innocent crush on the boy around the corner, and the tension she feels between the things she loved as a child and mysterious grown-up things that she knows that she “should” like. Altebrando captures something ineffable about being twelve that reminds me of none other than middle-grade master Judy Blume.

If I Stay Cover Image
ISBN: 9780142415436
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Speak - April 6th, 2010

Where She Went Cover Image
ISBN: 9780142420898
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Speak - April 17th, 2012

This duo of books are not as new as the other two books featured here. However, I think you’ll be hearing a lot about them in the coming months thanks to the upcoming movie version of IF I STAY, which will be released in August. The novel largely takes place while the main character, Mia, is in a coma following a car wreck that killed the rest of her family. The title refers to her choice about whether to stay on Earth and heal or to let go and be with her parents and brother. Despite the morbid direction in which this book could have gone, it depicts a charming family, young love, and the complexity of relationships through a series of flashbacks. Like THE BATTLE OF DARCY LANE, this book features parents whose relationships with one another and with their children is a major inspiration. Forman’s sequel, WHERE SHE WENT, is an even quieter book, and I believe my favorite of the two. Without the drama of hospital scenes, this book is reminiscent of the deceptively simple film BEFORE SUNRISE, only it’s set in New York during a meeting between estranged lovers, not in Paris with two strangers. Both books explore grief and the unexpected directions life can take.