Maybe A Fox

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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

The Wrath and the Dawn

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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

Fables

     Fables Vol. 20: Camelot

Title: Fables

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

Cinder

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Title: Cinder

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

A Monster Calls

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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

Princess of the Midnight Ball

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Title: Princess of the Midnight Ball

Author:  Jessica Day George

Summary:  After twelve years of war, the country Westfalin has finally managed a victory.  It’s a grim victory with the country deeply in debt to her allies and many soldiers lost.  As the King attempts to raise the spirits of his countrymen, a palace mystery begins to create more strife for the entire country.  It has been discovered that every third night the King’s twelve daughters disappear for hours and return exhausted with worn out dancing slippers.  Unbeknownst to all,  the princesses have been cursed to travel deep into the earth and dance with the King Under Stone’s twelve sons .  Cursed so that they are unable to speak about the forced midnight balls, the princesses must continue to dance through exhaustion and illness. 

In hopes of winning the hand of one of the princesses, princes from neighboring countries travel to Westfalin to try to solve the mystery.  All who try meet with failure and the future for the princesses looks bleak as they are now forced to dance every night.  But then a brave young soldier, Galen, comes to town and starts work in the king’s garden.  There he meets the eldest princess, Rose, and is moved to action by her misery.  Armed with an invisibility cloak, enchanted silver knitting needles, and a little magically assistance Galen attempts to solve the mystery and break the curse that holds the princesses enslaved. 

Who will like this book?  Fans of fairy tales and romantic adventures.

If you like this, try this:  Beastly by Alex Flinn, Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread by Kate Dicamillo, Zel by Donna Jo Napoli, Beauty by Robin McKinley, and The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian

Zombies vs Unicorns

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Title: Zombies vs Unicorns

Editors: Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

Summary: It’s a debate as old as time (or, an Internet meme started in February 2007): Flesh eating symbols of the inevitable decay of modern civilization, or rainbow-farting, frolicking  horned creatures. (Okay, you can obviously see my preference.) This collection of 12 short stories by some of today’s best YA writers takes up the debate, alternating zombie and unicorn stories, with editors Black and Larbalestier providing a highly entertaining commentary before each tale begins.

Stories by Carrie Ryan (The Forest of Hands and Teeth) and Diana Peterfreund (Rampant)  explore characters and situations familiar to readers of their books, while Scott Westerfeld, Meg Cabot, Maureen Johnson and Libba Bray provide new tales that will leave you wishing the pages would turn forever. Like a zombie shambling ever onward. Or a unicorn prancing, I guess. Even if you aren’t a zombie person (which makes you a unicorn person, which is…let’s face it, strange) this collection is a terrific introduction to the many facets of contemporary fantasy, and a definite must-read.

Who will like this book?: Mature readers who are fans (or haters) of zombies. Fans (or haters) of unicorns. Anyone who likes fun, fast-paced fantasy stories.

If you like this, try this: The Living Dead, edited by John Joseph Adams.  A good collection of unicorn short stories – if such a thing existed.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian