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

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Castle Waiting

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Title: Castle Waiting

Author/Illustrator: Linda Medley

Summary: What happens after Sleeping Beauty wakes up? She leaves her enchanted castle behind to go live with her prince, of course! This imaginative graphic novel tells the story of those she left behind – ladies-in-waiting, magical creatures and other castle dwellers who also succumbed to the sleeping spell who wait…and wait…and wait for their princess to return.

The castle becomes legendary as a place for outcasts and wanderers, including the mysterious Lady Jain, taciturn Iron Henry, and the hilarious Sister Peaceful. Like any great fairy tale, there is no shortage of magical creatures wreaking havoc and clever solutions to seemingly impossible problems. Castle Waiting is a charming, fast-paced read and will leave you smiling.

Who will like this book?: Fans of fractured fairy tales and light-hearted, romantic, fun stories.

If you like this, try this: Into the Wild and Out of the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst. For mature readers, the Fables series by Bill Willingham or books by Gregory Maguire (Wicked, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, etc.)

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Impossible

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Title: Impossible

Author: Nancy Werlin

Summary:

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.

Remember me to one who lives there.

She once was a true love of mine…

Lucy Scarborough has a terrific life: Supportive foster parents that adore her (and even love her mother, who went mad and disappeared right after giving birth), great friends like her neighbor Zach, and a date to the prom with Gray, a nice guy who seems to really like her. But Lucy doesn’t know that her name carries a terrible curse: Because an ancient ancestor refused to become the true love of the Elfin King, all the Scarborough girls are destined to become pregnant at 17, and then go mad after they give birth to a daughter, who will also go mad, continuing the cycle for eternity, unless they can break the curse.

Lucy knows nothing about her tragic family history – until the day of the prom. Now, she only has nine months to break the curse by completing the three impossible tasks set forth in the famous folk song ‘Scarborough Fair,’ the only inheritance she ever received from her mother, Miranda. While the odds seem horribly long, Lucy has something no other Scarborough girl has had before: A family that believes in her, a friend who will do anything to save her and her baby, and modern technology. Can she do the impossible and break the curse of the Elfin King?

Who will like this book?: Fans of fantasy stories grounded in reality. Fans of Twilight. Romantics who believe that true love can conquer all.

If you like this, try this: The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt. The Rules of Survival, also by Nancy Werlin.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Ella Enchanted

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Title: Ella Enchanted

Author: Gail Carson Levine

Summary: At birth, the fairy Lucinda “gifted” Ella  with obedience. Whenever ordered to do something, Ella can’t help but to comply. At an early age her mother dies and at the funeral she meets Prince Char, her first best friend.  A few years pass before her father starts being courted by the awful Dame Olga, who has two monsters for daughters – Hattie and Olive. To make matters worse, Hattie soon discovers that Ella will do anything she says.  The story follows Ella as she learns to deal with these new step-devils, some ugly – and rather old – suitors, trolls, and of course her curse. Only Lucinda can remove the curse, but the problem is Lucinda never takes back a gift. Can Ella save her life before it all falls apart?

Who will like this book?: If you want a classic fairy tale, this is the book for you. A charming Prince, a witty female lead, evil humans and creatures, and some unexpected magical friends add up to the essentials of this fairy tale. It has more dialogue than action, but it’s fast-paced and hilarious. And apart from the characters and basic plot outline, it’s not anything like the movie.

If you like this, you should try: Anything else by Gail Carson Levine–she has a series of fairy books, as well as The Wish. Other good fairy-tale books are Tithe by Holly Black, Artemis Fowlby Eoin Colfer, almost anything by Dianna Wynne Jone or Shannon Hale, and the Wolf Tower series (Wolf Tower is the name of the first one) by Tanith Lee.

Recommended by: ZZ, resident of Fairfield and avid reader.

Peter and the Starcatchers

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Title: Peter and the Starcatchers

Author: Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Summary: Peter and his group of fellow orphans are on the ship Never Land headed towards becoming slaves to an evil King who wants his hands on more than just some orphan boys. On the journey, he meets Molly, an unusual girl, who eventually confides in him the importance of a trunk stashed away on board. Soon enough the notorious pirate Captain Stache comes looking for the trunk, endangering Molly’s father in the process, as well as everyone on the Never Land.  The story takes off as Peter discovers what mysteries are within the trunk – and just how far Stache is willing to go to get his hands on it.  From two different writers, the pieces come together in a new telling of how the famous Neverland came to be along with its hero Peter Pan.

Who will like this book?: Obviously if you’re into Peter Pan (or love Disney themes), this is the book to read. It’s readable for children and anyone who’s ever imagined something extraordinary will find enjoyment in reading this.

If you like this, you should try: The second and third books in the series–Peter and the Secret of Rundoon and Peter and the Shadow Thieves – as well as Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean and Scott M. Fischer and Capt. Hook: The Adventures of a Notorious Youth by J. V. Hart and Brett Helquist.

Recommended by: ZZ, resident of Fairfield and avid reader.

Into the Wild

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Title: Into the Wild

Author: Sarah Beth Durst

Summary: Living in a fairy tale isn’t ‘happily ever after.’ When the story ends, it just starts all over again. Julie knows just how different her life is from most teenagers. She has grown up listening to the stories her mom, Rapunzel, has told about how the fairy tale characters banded together to defeat ‘the Wild,’ the land of fairy tales that forced them to relive the same moments for hundreds of years. The Wild lives under Julie’s bed: A mess of branches and leaves that is constantly stealing her shoes. It is her job to make sure it doesn’t escape. 

When the Wild accidentally gets loose and begins to spread, trapping Cinderella, the witch, Red Riding Hood and all her family’s friends inside, Julie and her adopted brother, Puss and Boots, must go into the sinister forest to rescue them, keep from being captured in a story themselves, and prevent the Wild from turning the world into a never-ending fairy tale gone bad.

Who will like this book?: Fans of fractured fairy tales, or stories about when fantasy takes over the real world. People looking for adventure books starring girls.

If you like this, try this: The sequel, Out of the Wild. Books by Gregory Maguire, including his latest, What-the-Dickens. Dave Barry’s Peter series.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Princess Ben

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Title: Princess Ben

Author: Catherine Murdock

Summary:  Dairy Queen author Catherine Murdock branches out into fantasy with this fairytale with a twist.  After Princess Benevolence’s parents are murdered, she finds herself pressed into a strict royal life she never wanted.  Queen Sophia puts plump Ben on a strict diet and fills her days with long hours of dance lessons, penmanship, and other princessly endeavors.  One night while locked in her miserable little chamber, Ben discovers a secret passage way to an enchanted room.  In that room, Ben finds a book that teaches her the magic arts.  Ben’s private magical education and her very public refusal to conform to the behavior of a future queen end up threatening the sovereignty of her kingdom.  It will take everything Ben has learned, as well as a change of heart, to save her kingdom.

Who will like this book?:  If you like grown-up fairy tales and stories of magic this is the book for you. 

If you like this, try this:  Fairest and Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Beastly by Alex Flinn, Twice Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris, and books by Donna Jo Napoli

Recommended by: Jen, Branch Teen Librarian