The origins of many classic fairy tales can be traced to the Brothers Grimm and their writings during the 1800’s. These favorite stories have been retold across generations and cultures, for example, thousands of variations of the Cinderella story are told in almost every culture of the world. Today, adaptations of fairy tales are increasingly creative and popular.
“Cinder” by Marissa Meyer, Feiwel & Friends, 2012, 390 pages, ages 11 and up.
Cinder is a cyborg, half human and half mechanical, and is thus considered to be a second-class citizen, especially by her stepmother and stepsister. Being cyborg does have its advantages, as Cinder is adept at fixing things, knowing if people are lying, and being immune to a fast-spreading disease. These talents also draw her into a world conflict involving Prince Kai and his arch-rival Levena the Lunar Queen, which reaches a climax at the ball. The links to the Cinderella story in this futuristic tale are veiled and unexpected, causing readers to think deeply to find the connections. The book is part of the Lunar Chronicles which will also feature the books “Scarlet”, “Cress”, and “Winter”.
“Between the Lions” by Jodi Picoult & Samantha Van Leer, Simon Pulse, 2012, 352 pages, ages 12 and up.
In this fairy tale, Prince Oliver lives within the confines of a book, but he desperately wants to leave the make-believe book world and join the real world, the ending to a tale, and the path of his life are unknown. Delilah is a teenage in the real world, who loves reading fairy tales and begins to believe these stories are real. When Delilah’s and Prince Oliver’s worlds collide, it becomes difficult to know what is real and what is fairy tale. Jodi Picoult, known for her adult fiction, collaborates with her high school daughter to create this tale of action, suspense, and a happy ending.
“Half Upon a Time” by James Riley, Aladdin, 2010, 385 pages, ages 11 and up.
Jack is supposed to bravely slay dragons and rescue princesses, but this story is full of fairy tale half-truths. When May literally falls from the sky (modern world) into the kingdom, wearing a t-shirt that says Punk Princess, Jack soon finds himself faced with a question. Does he join the search for May’s grandmother, Snow White, at the risk of offending the queen? Readers should be on the look-out for elements from other fairy tales, although things may not always be as they appear. The sequel, “Twice Upon a Time” is also available.
“Beauty and the Beast: The Only One Who Didn’t Run Away” by Wendy Mass, Scholastic, 2012, 282 pages, ages 8 and up.
This is a fairy tale where things are not always what they seem. Beauty is her name, but she is known for her brains, rather than her looks. She toils to support her family that has fallen on hard times. In another part of the kingdom, Prince Riley, the budding scientist, is transformed into a large, furry beast and his family is made invisible by an evil witch. To return to his old self he must find a girl to love him before times runs out. Both characters rely on loyal friends and a loving family to support their efforts. Part of the Twice Upon a Time series, this version of Beauty and the Beast is written by Wendy Mass, the 2012 winner of the William Allen White Award for “Eleven Birthdays”.
Fairy tales give us a model to deal with today’s problems through stories from the past, and can inspire us to lead our own quest where good conquers evil and to create our own happily ever after.