Booklist: New 2016 YA Fairytales with Fierce Female Main Characters

In the past, a common argument against traditional fairytales has been the detrimental stereotypes of women that they portray. Over the years, fairytales have been reinvented to reflect our current society, as evidenced by the change from Grimm’s or Perrault’s versions to Disney’s iconic films.

Still, women’s roles have changed drastically from those seen in the 17th and 19th centuries, and even the 1950’s! Today’s girls and young women are now highly encouraged to stand up for themselves, speak out and break patriarchal barriers. This trend has translated into traditional fairytales and folktales being spun with stronger female protagonists.

fierce fairytales

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

First in a planned trilogy, the story of Snow White loosely frames a gripping fantasy. After Queen Irina steals both the throne and her father’s life, Crown Princess Lorelai is a fugitive in her own country and hunted by a shape-shifting prince desperately trying to save his kingdom. However, Lorelai is determined to win back her crown, and despite the danger to herself, allies with the dragon prince to kill Queen Irina. This battle for a birthright is complete with love, magic, poisoned apples, and a princess who develops into a fiery, determined heroine.

Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell

The second book in Liz Braswell’s Twisted Tales series and beginning after the end of the Disney film version, Princess Aurora is stuck in her own dreams in a world turned on its head. Maleficent is the benevolent, caring ruler of a terrifying kingdom. Meeting Prince Philip on her journey through the kingdom, Aurora comes to realize that her reality is magically hijacked by Maleficent’s power. Only Aurora has the courage and power to save her kingdom from this coldly calculating evil.

Everland by Wendy Spinale

A bombed and disease-ridden World War II London is overshadowed by the deadly German army known as the Marauders under Captain Hans Otto Oswald Kretschmer. Since most if not all the adults are dead from illness, Gwen Darling tries to protect her two siblings from being kidnapped by the Marauders but fails when Joanna is taken. Together with new allies Pete, Bella, and Pete’s gang of Lost Boys, Gwen is determined to face Hook and save her sister in this first novel of a trilogy. Continue reading Booklist: New 2016 YA Fairytales with Fierce Female Main Characters

The Age of the Retelling

Aliens. Vampires. Ghosts. Dystopians. These are some huge themes that pop culture has gone through in the past decade. From YA novels, to movies, to television shows there is always a theme that prevails for a period of time. Our current theme? Retellings.

The current line up of new movies are either remakes and reboots of originals or books and comics turned into movies, with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Revenant, and Deadpool leading the way. Current popular TV shows are either retellings or revivals of past shows, with the masses being particularly excited about Fuller House and X-Files.

Retellings abound in YA literature as well, not only in rewriting classics, such as Marta Acosta’s retelling of Jane Eyre entitled Dark Companion, but many retellings of fairy tales. What is it about retellings that catch our attention? Is it the themes that we know and love? Is it the comfort of the familiar, like we are coming home? I am sure the answer is different for everyone, but there is no doubt that retellings are taking the pop culture world by storm.

fairy tale retellings young adult literature

As with many themes, certain books quickly take the spotlight, while some others quietly gain attention. The same goes with retellings. Below are some books that all your friends may have been telling you about, books you haven’t heard of, and new books to keep an eye out for.

Continue reading The Age of the Retelling

Booklist: Genre Reads for Cold Winter Nights

The temperatures are dropping below freezing and the sun sets early, making it the perfect time of year to curl up with a good book. Whether you like thrillers, swoon-worthy romance, or an escape from reality, there’s a book here to warm you up.

This is also a great list for a seasonal book display that can incorporate many genres and appeal to a wide range of readers.

Thrillers and Mysteries for Cold Winter Nights

If you’re in the mood for an adrenaline rush, these books are sure to  get your heart pounding. These mysteries and thrillers will chill you to the bone!

young adult thrillers for cold winter nights

Bonechiller by Graham McNamee (2009 Best Books for Young Adults)

After his mother’s death, Danny moves with his father to a remote Canadian town next to a frozen lake with a terrifying legend that haunts it.

Trapped by Michael Northrup

Seven teens are waiting to be picked up from school when a killer snowstorm hits. Can they survive? This is a good bed for readers who want a thriller without paranormal elements.

As White as Snow by Salla Simukka

Atmospheric Nordic crime thrillers have been popular with adult readers, and this trilogy brings the blood (and cold) to YA and adds a fairy tale twist.

Nightfall by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujiwinski

When the season turns, more than severe weather threatens an isolated island and residents flee. When a group of teenagers are left behind, they must fight to survive. With hints of supernatural threats in addition to the terror of the elements, this is a spooky thriller for middle school readers.

The Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley

This has all the elements of a classic ghost story: an orphan is sent to live in an isolated house in the woods, where he finds a spirits and a mysterious secrets. Fans of staples in this genre, like Poe or Gorey, will delight in this homage to Victorian ghost stories.

The Edge by Roland Smith

The follow up to Peak, this story revolves around a mountain-climbing and documentary film expedition that turns sinister when the director is murdered and other climbers are taken hostage.

Romance for Cold Winter Nights

There are countless summer romances in YA fiction, but sometimes it feels like the winter-themed stories are limited to holiday collections. These novels take place in the winter months.

YA romance for cold winter nights

 

Continue reading Booklist: Genre Reads for Cold Winter Nights

Scary Stories to Set the Mood for Halloween

If you are like me, you’ve been ready for Halloween since August 1st. Not everyone is so Halloween-happy. Maybe you haven’t bought out the grocery store’s stock of canned pumpkin or purchased a new shade of orange nail polish, but, like it or not, October is upon us, which means you may have teens swarming your stacks in search of something to creep them out and give them nightmares. In my experience I get more requests for “scary stories” than horror novels.  With that in mind I’m going to highlight some collections of short stories sure to meet various spine-chilling needs as well as give some horror specific readers’ advisory tips.scary stories for halloween

Remember-

  • “Scary” is subjective. Every reader is going to be comfortable with different levels of the supernatural, violence, gore, etc. A good way to assess what type of horror a reader wants is to ask them what their favorite scary book is. If they are not an avid reader you may need to ask about their favorite scary movie or scary television show. You are probably going to want to recommend a different book to a fan of The Sixth Sense than you would to a fan of Saw.

 

  • If you are not a horror reader yourself or get scared easily, it’s OK for you to tell teens this. Particularly with younger teens this may help them to be more open about how scary they want their stories to be. If you aren’t a horror reader, however, you will want to familiarize yourself with the popular horror titles in your collection. If you can pick the brain of a fellow staff member or teen volunteer who reads a lot of horror, this is a great start.

Continue reading Scary Stories to Set the Mood for Halloween

It’s Good to Be Bad: Maleficent

maleficent

I always thought Maleficent was the scariest and the most fascinating of all the Disney villains. So from the moment I saw the first trailer at Catching Fire back in November, I was thrilled that she was getting her own movie. It turned out to be so much more than I expected.

In recent years, Disney has made a refreshing departure from their standard princess movie to a new generation of tough  heroines like Merida and Elsa, who determine their own destinies, fight their own battles, and want more out of life than to marry a prince. (If you have not read it yet, you should really check out Hannah Gomez’s Hub review of Frozen.) In Enchanted, we even saw Disney poke fun at some of its own tropes before sort of reinforcing them. Maleficent goes a step beyond to do something it has never done before. It takes one of those classic princess movies and turns it on its head, not just by telling the story from the perspective of the villain, but by putting ALL the power in the hands of the women.

It is almost impossible to write about the themes of this movie without being spoilery, but I am going to try. Even if you have a Disney-obsessed seven-year-old in your house  like I do and have seen all the extended sneak peaks on the Disney Channel, you probably have not seen much that deviates from the 1959 animated Sleeping Beauty. And I am going to try to honor that because I really want everyone to go see it and be surprised…and delighted, and terrified, and maybe even moved to tears.  Continue reading It’s Good to Be Bad: Maleficent

Young Adult-Picture Book Pairings: Cinderella Stories

cinderella_eilenbergThe two types of books I check out most from the library are young adult books and picture books. In my case, this is because I’m a thirty-something librarian who likes to read YA books, while I have three kids who like like to read picture books. It occurred to me that I might not be the only reader who’s currently interested in both YA and picture book audiences: lots of teens have younger siblings, many librarians at small libraries serve patrons who run the gamut of ages, and some people just like to read both picture books and YA books! I’ve also noticed that some themes and stories appear frequently in both types of literature, so I’ll be doing an occasional series on picture books and YA books that go together.

The first theme for this series basically chose itself… I love fairy tale retellings, and my middle child has been obsessed with Cinderella for the last year and a half, and going strong! There are tons of Cinderella retellings out there, so I tried to select a few of our family favorites for the picture book selections, and some YA options that have garnered attention in recent years.

Picture Books

adelitaAdelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story, retold and illustrated by Tomie dePaola. A version that doesn’t rely on magic, the story of Adelita shows how a sweet disposition, a childhood friendship, and the help of a beloved family servant win Adelita her happily-ever-after.

Cinderella, retold by Max Eilenberg, illustrated by Niamh Sharkey. There are many retellings of the “classic” French version, first attributed to Charles Perrault, and this is one such retelling. Eilenberg takes some liberty with the story though, by giving the narration more of an oral storytelling feel, adding a third ball (Perrault’s version has two), and letting Cinderella’s father redeem himself in the end (in Perrault’s version, he is the quintessential hen-pecked husband who does not stand up for his daughter. Continue reading Young Adult-Picture Book Pairings: Cinderella Stories

Ice Cold Girl Power: The Snow Queen and Frozen

frozenThe Snow Queen is one of those fairy tales where you really can talk about “the original.”  Unlike other fairy tales, in which we use the term “original” to talk about any number of versions from various times in history we can’t really pin down, this one was written and published by Hans Christian Andersen in 1845. It almost feels not like a fairy tale at all, because if you’re used to the usual (I could say Disneyfied, but it’s really far more common than that) fairy tale structures and characters, this one doesn’t follow. It’s about children, not teenagers or adults; it’s quite long and divided into chapters; and it’s really more of a classic hero’s epic, with challenges and magical beings trying to deter the hero – only the hero is a girl, Gerda, and the person she’s rescuing is her childhood best friend, Kai, who otherwise isn’t all that interesting.

So that’s what’s interesting about The Snow Queen. It’s about a girl doing stuff. Being the boss. Having an adventure and traveling. Rescuing a boy who doesn’t even try to rescue himself because he has ice stuck in his chest, freezing his metaphorical heart. So, like everyone else, I waited with baited breath for Disney to mess it all up.

Warning: from here on out, this post contains what you may or may not define as spoilers, depending on how much you think the surprise of a Disney movie lies in the plot, as opposed to in the sound and look of it all.  Continue reading Ice Cold Girl Power: The Snow Queen and Frozen

The Monday Poll: Fairy Tale Sequels

fairy tale by pasukara76Good morning, Hub readers!

Last week we asked which fictional band name from a YA book had the best name. The battle of the bands is over, and here are the results: Copenhagen Interpretation (from Going Bovine by Libba Bray) won with 40% of the vote. Second place went to Force Field of Unimaginable Pain (from Scorch by Gina Damico) with 18%. Third place was secured by The Jerk-Offs (from Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan) with 16%. You can see detailed results for all of our previous polls in the Polls Archive. Thanks to all of you who voted!

This week, we want to know which YA book that explores what happens after a fairy tale ends is your favorite. Vote in the poll below or leave a comment if we’ve omitted a really great fairy tale sequel! (There are lots more, right?)

[poll id=”107″]

From Page to Screen: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

Today on the blog, I get to talk about one of my favorite things. In general, I love books and I love movies. Sometimes I get to compare the two. Though generally I try to consider the stories as separate entities in different mediums, at times I find it fascinating to see how one has progressed to the other.

Hansel-and-Gretel-Witch-Hunters1Last month, I went to the movie theater to see Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Unbeknownst to me, this movie was entirely in 3D, so I had my first full 3D movie  experience.  eeling slightly silly wearing the 3D glasses, I soon found myself immersed in a foreign world. I wandered right alongside Hansel and Gretel as they traveled German forests and small European towns to find witches that were plaguing the average human folk.  

Continue reading From Page to Screen: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters

New Tales from Old: Adult Fairy Tales for YA Lit Lovers

These illustrations came from:Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm. Hansel and Gretel and Other Stories by the Brothers Grimm. Kay Nielsen, illustrator. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1925.
Hansel and Gretel and Other Stories by the Brothers Grimm. Kay Nielsen, illustrator. 1925.
Today is Tell A Fairy Tale Day, a possibly-made-up-by-the-Internet day, but a worthwhile and exciting day nonetheless. In honor of such an auspicious occasion, and in an attempt to put a slightly different spin  on the topic, here are a handful of adult re-tellings that fans of YA literature are sure to find compelling. One caveat: these are adult books. Obviously that label has much less to do with any inherent level of sophistication and more to do with marketing (and possibly content) since we here all know just how complex and excellent YA novels can be. Most, but not all, of these books feature teen (or at least young adult) protagonists, but all were published as adult titles, and some are quite dark, forthright, and potentially disturbing, just like many of the best fairy tales. In other words, for many of these, think Margo Lanagan’s Tender Morsels rather than Gail Carson Levine’s Ella Enchanted.

That said, may I suggest you celebrate Tell A Fairy Tale Day by curling up with one of the following. (All fairy tale links are to the original tales as presented by the extraordinary Sur La Lune Fairy Tales site.)

Continue reading New Tales from Old: Adult Fairy Tales for YA Lit Lovers