Monday, September 22, 2014

Fantasy for all ages

The Ever Afters by Shelby Bach (Middle-School, High School)
This on-going series, while written for middle-school, can easily be enjoyed by older teens as well. And for
Harry Potter and Rick Riordan fans looking for something new, this series hits the spot! In book 1, “Of Giants and Ice”, Rory Landon, the daughter of a very famous couple, starts a new after-school program. And no-one knows who she is. If that weren’t strange enough, by the end of the first day, she has found herself face-to-face with a fire-breathing dragon. At Ever After School, Rory learns that the stories she grew up thinking were just fairy tales are actually tales that have been secretly playing out over and over again throughout time, by kids destined to be characters. And Rory has her own tale to fulfill—that is, if she can make it through her friends’ tales first!
Bach has created a unique world, where fairy tale characters are very real and where adventure and magic abounds. But what really pulls you in and refuses to let go are the amazing cast of characters, going through the normal trials of kids growing up, dealing with family issues, and learning who their friends are-only with swords, crazy inventions, and some truly spectacular adventures thrown in the mix.

Half Upon a Time by James Riley (Middle-School)
This retelling of Jack and the Bean Stalk gets an interesting twist when Jack (not the Jack from Jack and the Bean Stalk, that was his father-who’s still missing by the way) has to rescue a princess. Not a regular princess though-this one fell from the sky, wears a weird shirt that says “punk princess” and denies that she actually is a princess at all. May doesn’t believe that magic exists-but she does need help because a hunter is chasing her. And Jack thinks that she might be the granddaughter of the long lost heroine, Snow White. What follows is a funny adventure that combines giants, scary horses, defiant royalty, broken mirrors -and the discovery that not everyone is who they might seem to be.
Fables  by Bill Willingham (Adults and mature Teens)
Fables is a long-running comics series that has been released into bound graphic novels. If you are a fan of the TV show “Once Upon a Time” then you will love this series.  The first of the bound graphic novels is titled “Legends in Exile”-which is the basis of the entire series. All those famous fairy tale characters, such as Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Cinderella, Charming, Pinocchio, etc, were chased out of their homelands and forced into exile by the Adversary. The land they wound up in? Modern-day New York, hiding in plain sight within-in a section of the city called Fabletown. But things may not be as peaceful as they seem when Snow White’s sister Rose Red is murdered and the sheriff (none other than the reformed Big Bad Wolf) has to determine who killed her. Thought you knew who the good guys and the bad guys are in those fairy tales? Well think again-you won’t see most of these twists coming!
Goldi Rocks and the 3 Bears by Corey Schwartz (Easy Picture Book)
In this adorable musical retelling of Goldilocks, the 3 bears like to rock out with their band. But they don’t
get a very big audience-so they decide to get a singer. When they hold auditions though, no one seems just right. Enter a yellow haired girl sleeping on Baby Bear’s keyboard (after testing out all their musical equipment) and you have a very entertaining and imaginative musical cast that might be just right!

Princess by Jessica George Day (Teens and Middle -School)
Jessica George Day re-imagines the tale of the 12 dancing princesses in this enchanting and well-written series. Rose and her 11 sisters disappear each night, and return with their slippers worn through. Galen, a soldier returning from war, and Rose must fight to free the sisters from a curse that is slowly killing them. With an invisibility cloak, a black wool chain knit with silver needles and true love they should have a fighting chance. But dark forces are working against them-The King Under Stone is as determined to keep the sisters as they are to free themselves. With a delightful cast of characters, and a very interesting twist on an old story, this is not a series to miss!
500 Kingdoms by Mercedes Lackey (Adults and Teens)
In her 500 Kingdoms series, fantasy and science fiction writer Mercedes Lackey produces some truly fantastic variations on many well-known fairy tale characters from the Fairy Godmother, to the Snow Queen and the Little Mermaid.  In book 1, “The Fairy Godmother” Lackey introduces a world where The Tradition rules the outcome of the lives of every person, from the lowest sheepherder to the highest king, uncaring of how many die as long as Tales are played out. Elena, mistreated by her stepmother, finds herself in training to be the kingdom’s next fairy godmother. She battles with The Tradition, trying to keep those it forces into Tales, such as questers, alive. When she comes across a particularly headstrong and unforgiving quester-well let’s just say the punishment matches the man, with hilarious results. With strong world-building, engaging and flawed characters and interesting plot twists, this book is the beginning of a series you shouldn’t miss!
A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz (Middle-School)
This series revolves around some other well-known characters from the Grimm Brothers-Hansel and Gretel. In this clever series, Hansel and Gretel manage to walk out of their own tale and straight into some other characters’ tales. The must rely on themselves and each other, and learn the true story behind the gingerbread house and weird witches. They also must learn their own strengths if they want to write their own destiny into a new story.

Wide Awake Princess by E.D. Baker (Middle-School)
E.D. Baker re-imagines Sleeping Beauty in this delightful and charming middle-school series. Princess Annie is the younger, less graceful and less perfect sister of Gwen, the princess destined to be Sleeping Beauty. In a kingdom where magic reigns supreme, used to alter undesirable physical characteristics, Annie is cursed (or possibly blessed?) with immunity to magic. Her family ostracizes her, as her presence causes their own magical alterations to wane.  But when Gwen pricks her finger, causing the castle to fall asleep, Annie is left awake-and determined to rescue her family. What follows is a fantastic adventure as our young heroine discovers her own strength. And if you like the “Wide Awake Princess” make sure to check out E.D. Baker’s other series, also retelling classic fairy tales: “Tales of the Frog Princess” and the origins of the evil (or perhaps not) witch Baba Yaga in her book “A Question of Magic”.
 --S.R. Youth Services

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