Fairy Tales Your Way

Cleveland Park LibraryStaff Picks

Fairy Tales Your Way

Updated fairy tales for middle grade readers

Because myths and fairy tales are so well known, they can make a great backdrop for an author to play with story. There are a lot of great children's books that take a common story as the base, but where the author makes the tale their own.

Here are some of my favorites:

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
In the Grimm story "The Goose Girl," a wicked servant switches places with a princess while travelling to marry the prince of a distant kingdom. This retelling adds a little magic, creating a world where a little charisma can be very dangerous. There are several sequels, starting with Enna Burning, which expand upon the world created here.

Hale also wrote a great graphic novel about Rapunzel.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
Given the popularity of Frozen, it seems like other adaptations of the Hans Christian Anderson story "The Snow Queen" may have a lot of appeal. This one, where Hazel has to go rescue her best friend Jack, is my favorite. 

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
This story, while based on Cinderella, incorporates an element of Sleeping Beauty - the birth curse. Here, Ella is cursed with obedience. There's also a movie.

Just Ella by Margaret Peterson Haddix also plays with the Cinderella story, but in a very different way.

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
Interested in fairy tales generally? Here, Hansel and Gretel escape from their story - and wind up in other Grimm stories. I love this book, and the rest of the trilogy it starts, but just a heads up: It's very violent (as befits the source material!)

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman
At the library, you can borrow books, music and movies, as well as use our facilities to do cool things like 3-D print. Well, what if you could also borrow some of the magical items from fairy tales? This book describes the adventures of Elizabeth, who works at such a library -- not so surprisingly, using magical items can have bizarre consequences!

Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper
I could write a whole list of Arthurian retellings, but Susan Cooper's series has been one of my favorite versions since elementary school. The deep Arthurian references don't show up until later in the series, but it's worth starting at the beginning to read all the adventures of the Drew children.

Dealing With Dragons by Patricia Wrede
Cimorene isn't a typical princess. So, she decides to run away and work for a dragon. This book cleverly plays with many tropes common to fairy tales and fantasy more generally. The sequels are great too!