Author: Jen Calonita
Summary: Twelve-year old Gilly isn’t a bad kid, she’s just done some bad things. Or, at least the rest of the Enchantasia thinks Gilly’s thieving ways are signs of a tween heading in the wrong direction. What they don’t take into account is that Gilly steals to keep her siblings fed and provide them with the occasional extra treat or gift. Unfortunately for Gilly, since motives don’t matter, when she is caught stealing for the third time she is immediately sentenced to the latest development for transforming wayward kids into upstanding citizens- Fairy Tale Reform School (“FTRS”).
FTRS was founded by Flora, the fairly-recently reformed and formerly wicked step-mother of Cinderella, upon realizing the error of her ways and wishing to make amends by helping mischievous youth. And, FTRS doesn’t just offer troubled youths a second chance, it’s also staffed by former villains like the Sea Witch and Big Bad Wolf. But with Pegasus riding, big prepared meals, new friends, and only having to share a spacious tower room with one roommate, Gilly is finding reform school really isn’t much of a punishment. In fact, if she didn’t have a family to worry about it’s the kind of place a kid could get used to. Then mysterious and dangerous events start to occur, and Gilly and her friends are beginning to wonder if all of their teachers have truly left their villainous ways in the past.
Who will like this?: This light, quick read is a great selection for middle grade readers who enjoy fairy tale retellings.
If you like this, try reading: The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer, Ever After High series by Shannon Hale, and Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski.
Where can I find a copy?: Paper copy available at Fairfield Public Library and Fairfield Woods Branch Library, Digital copy downloadable from Overdrive through Fairfield Public Library, and audio copy downloadable from Hoopla through Fairfield Public Library.
Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Teen Librarian
Title: Maybe a Fox
Authors: Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee
Summary: Sylvie and Jules Sherman are sisters who live with their father in the Vermont woods. Each day, they take the bus to school and sit, crammed three-to-a-seat with their best friend and neighbor Sam. All three love the woods that separate their houses, spending their time exploring every nook and cranny, and tossing wish rocks, with their burning desires written on them, into the Slip, a wondrous and dangerous natural formation that alters that path of the local river. Jules hasn’t found her wish yet, but Sylvie’s wish is to run – faster, faster, and faster while Sam wishes for the return of the catamount – a rare, wild thing. All three have been touched by grief: Sylvie and Jules lost their mother years ago, and Sam’s brother Elk has just returned from war but is changed – his best friend Zeke did not survive. One winter’s day before the bus arrives, the unthinkable happens to the Sherman family.
A fox is born in the deep woods. Senna is no mere fox, however: She is Kennen, alive with a thousand years of fox-knowledge in her bones and a sense that she is meant to find someone, and that someone is the girl crying and screaming a name into the trees. And a voice insider her head is always urging her to fun, faster and faster.
This is a lyrical story about loss, unbearable grief, the way we sometimes wish for impossible things and the unknown magic that animates our lives . Co-written by authors Appelt and McGhee, this books features gorgeous, stop-you-in-your-tracks writing in service of a simple and truth-filled tale that will stick with you for a long time.
Who will like this book: This is a great book for all ages. Readers who like stories that make them cry. People living with grief. Animal lovers.
If you like this, try this: Pax by Sara Pennypacker. See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles. Harvey: How I Became Invisible by Herve Bouchard.
Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian
Title: The Wrath and the Dawn
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Summary: Khalid, the dangerous and mysterious young Caliph of Khorasan, has an unsettling habit: He marries a new young girl from his city of Rey each night, only to have them killed each following dawn, strangled by a silken cord. One of the most recent victims of his bewildering cruelty was Shiva, the dearest friend of Shahrzad, daughter of a former vizier. Planning to exact revenge, Shahrzad volunteers to be Khalid’s next bride. While she is able to survive the first night of her marriage due to her skill as a charming storyteller, her place in the palace as Calipha is not secure and she is in constant danger from everyone around her. Meanwhile, outside the city, Shahrzad’s childhood friend and first love Tariq plots to free Shahrzad and the kingdom of Khorasan from the tyrannical rule of the hated Khalid. Of course, there is more to the Caliph than meets the eye. As an improbable connection begins to form between the married strangers, a tale of curses, true love and political intrigue begins to swirl that is as mesmerizing as one of Shahrzad’s nighttime tales.
This dynamic, un-put-downable page-turner is an outstanding debut by author Ahdieh. It is a fascinating retelling of The Arabian Nights and a great interpretation of its narrator, Scheherazade. There is romance, intrigue, adventure and even a dash of the supernatural to satisfy most readers, even those who are not interested in the revived trend of updated and fractured fairy tales. With the second book in the series, The Rose and the Dagger, due in 2016, you’ll want to get your hands on this title as soon as possible.
Who will like this book?: Readers who like intrigue and love-triangle romance with a dash of the supernatural. Fans of historical fiction based in non-European settings.
If you like this, try this: The forthcoming A Thousand Nights by Emily Kate Johnson. Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt. The original Arabian Nights tales, found in many translations. For mature readers, another fairy-tale retelling along these themes, Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall by Bill Willingham.
Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian
Author: Bill Willingham
Illustrators: Mark Buckingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha and more
Summary: First printed in 2002, the comic series Fables has endured, becoming one of the most beloved continuing series in recent memory. Forced out of their familiar Homelands by a dark and deadly figure known only as the “Adversary,” the legendary characters of myth and tall tales made their way to our world to establish Fabletown, where, as immortals, they have lived and thrived into our modern age. But the people you meet on these pages bear little resemblance to your favorite cartoon royals and monsters. When Jack (of Beanstalk fame) rushes to tell Bigby Wolf, sheriff of Fabletown that his girlfriend, Rose Red has disappeared and their apartment is covered in blood, an investigation into a possible murder begins. Following Bigby’s every move is Snow White, Rose’s sister and deputy mayor of Fabletown.
Over the course of its 12 year run (collected into 20 volumes so far), Willingham weaves in both beloved figures from the most popular fairy tales to obscure characters you may have never heard of. The nature of the story also changes, from murder mystery to domestic drama to epic quest. This is a great story to curl up in, because the twists and surprises will keep you turning pages, and some will even break your heart. With the end of the story coming soon (in early 2015,) this is the perfect time to start Fables at the beginning.
Who will like this book?: Mature readers who like ‘fractured’ fairy tales – new spins on familiar stories. TV watchers looking for something a bit grittier than Once Upon a Time. Fans of ongoing graphic novel series such as The Walking Dead.
If you like this, try this: Into the Wild and Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst. Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Page. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. The series The Unwritten by Mike Carey. And if you can’t get enough of the Fables world, read the prequel, 1001 Nights of Snowfall.
Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian
Author: Marissa Meyer
Summary: This futuristic re-imagining of Cinderella hits all the fairytale basics: unappreciated hard-working daughter, spoiled stepsister, cruel stepmother, handsome prince, and a ball for the entire land. But, there are also cyborgs, androids, a fatal plague, a cruel Lunar alien queen set on planetary domination, and magic-well not so much magic as bioelectrical manipulation.
It’s a fairytale like no other, set in New Beijing sometime after the Fourth World War-a war where nuclear and chemical warfare killed millions, decimated entire cultures, and reduced dozens of cities to rubble. This is the world of Cinder, a sixteen-year-old cyborg with an uncanny ability to understand how to fix things. She supports her stepmother and two stepsisters by running a mechanic’s booth in the market and has earned a reputation for being the best in New Beijing. Then, everything changes for Cinder when a disguised Prince Kai brings a broken android to her booth jokingly telling her that fixing the broken robot is “a matter of national security.” Cinder believes there may be some truth to the prince’s joke and agrees to the job.
However, Cinder is quickly side-tracked from the job when her young stepsister, the only human friend she has in the world, is stricken with a deadly plague. The same plague that threatens the life of the Prince Kai’s father, the Emperor of the Eastern Commonwealth. Cinder’s stepmother blames Cinder for her daughter’s illness and in retaliation she volunteers Cinder for plague research, a task no one has survived. The lead scientist soon discovers that there is something special about the latest volunteer. Something that others would kill and die for.
Who will like this book?: Readers who are looking for something a bit different from typical sci-fi/ fantasy story and open to a bit of fairytale romance.
If you like this, try this: The Pledge by Kimberly Derting, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld.
Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian
Title: A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness, inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd
Illustrator: Jim Kay
Summary: When the giant yew tree from Conor’s backyard comes to life it doesn’t really scare him. Because it’s not the monster he’d been expecting. Not the one from the nightmares he’s been having ever since his mom got sick. This monster is different: He is ancient, wise and a little snarky. As we follow Conor through his days being picked on at school, reuniting with his visiting Dad who has moved to America to start a new family and battling with his grandmother who insists he start planning for a future without his mom, the monster visits at night and tells Conor three stories. They are not what Conor expects them to be, but they force him to confront both the demonic monster of his nightmares and the reasons for its existence.
Like the monster’s stories themselves, this book is not what you expect it to be. It might sound like a typical kid-with-sick-mom story with a monster thrown in for good measure. But just when you think you know how the story will go, it will take another surprising turn. Patrick Ness, author of the terrific Chaos Walking trilogy and talented illustrator Jim Kay, who provides dynamic and just-plain-creepy images throughout, completed this book after Siobhan Dowd’s untimely death. Like her stories, this tale is so much more than the sum of its parts. This short book tells a story about growing up that you will never forget.
Who will like this book?: Readers of all ages who like a lot of heart and soul with their thrills and chills. Fans of fractured fairy tales and illustrated novels.
If you like this, try this: M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman. Harvey: How I Became Invisible by Herve Bouchard.
Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian