In the world of juvenile and young adult literature there has been an upsurge in the popularity of classic fairy tales revised into novel form. These revised works can include fuller plots, changed settings and characters, and even combinations of multiple tales. Modern retellings of fairy tales can be found across genres, with some remaining very similar to traditional tales while others are completely transformed.
For contemporary magical realism…
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
When Ophelia discovers a mysterious locked door in her father’s museum she becomes determined to free the boy inside who has been kept prisoner by the evil Snow Queen. The modern day setting mixed with magical elements from the The Snow Queenmade this title an interesting and popular choice for our 4th and 5th grade book club.
The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley
This series follows the adventures of the Grimm sisters, the newest fairy tale detectives in Ferryport Landing who are responsible for keeping a dangerous group of Everafters from wreaking havoc on the world. The Fairy Tale Detectives is the first title in the series and follows Sabrina and Daphne Grimm on their first case.
The Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer
The first book in the series, The Wishing Spell, introduces readers to twins Alex and Conner Bailey shortly after the death of their father. Alex seeks comfort through her grandmother’s book of fairy tales, but when she accidentally falls through the pages Conner must go after her into an enchanted world full of dangerous creatures and magic spells. Even if they can find a way to return home, their lives have forever become entangled in the Land of Stories.
For a more traditional tale…
East of the Sun, West of the Moon by Jackie Morris
When the bear from Berneen’s dreams takes her away to his enchanted castle they become the best of friends, but Berneen accidentally breaks the spell the bear is under so he is forced to marry the troll who cast the spell on him. With only the directions that the castle is east of the sun, west of the moon she sets off on a quest to find the bear and save him from his fate. In this expanded retelling of the classic tale, Morris uses exquisite illustrations to enhance Berneen’s adventure.
Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast by Robin McKinley
After Beauty’s father is caught stealing a rose from the Beast’s garden she must go live with the Beast in exchange for the rose. While Beauty comes to like living in the Beast’s enchanted castle she refuses to marry him and longs to return home to her family. During her time away, Beauty has a dream about the Beast dying and realizes her true feelings for him, but is it too late?
Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff
When Rump discovers that he can spin straw into gold he realizes that this gift is really a curse as he is forced to accept whatever someone offers him for his gold… even a baby. He must go on a quest to discover how he can break his spell once and for all. Shurtliff breaths life into this story of Rumpelstiltskin with humor and fanciful world-building. She’s also written Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk, and next year we’ll see Red: The True Story of Little Red Riding Hood.
For a mash up of different tales…
Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison
Rapunzel is perfectly content with life in her tower; she has Witch to take care of her every need and protect her from the dangers waiting on the ground. Until the day when a strange boy named Jack climbs into her room seeking a cure for a fairy that Rapunzel had supposedly poisoned the day before. Rapunzel has no choice but to leave her magic tower and beloved Witch to discover the truth about the fairy and her lost memories. Morrison seamlessly weaves Rapunzel and Jack’s stories into one delightful adventure that will have readers clamoring for a sequel.
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
This clever and dark series follows Hansel and Gretel as they leave their own story and journey through other less familiar Grimms’ tales in search of a better family, one that will not abandon them in a forest. Unfortunately, they do not meet many trustworthy adults and their adventure is full of bloody violence. While not for the faint of heart, this series is a welcome addition to other fairy tale retellings available as it stays true to the traditional Grimms’ tales.
The Hero’s Guide series by Christopher Healy
The first title in this hilarious series, The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, introduces readers to the four incompetent Princes known to the public only as Prince Charming. After rescuing their princesses and been subsequently rejected, the princes have set off on their own quests when they happen to meet and realize that it is up to them to save their kingdoms from a wicked witch.