Tag Archives: Retellings

Bewitching by Alex Flinn

Synopsis: A 500-year-old teen witch crosses paths with a reverse-Cinderella. Review: Bewitching is Alex Flinn’s latest fairy tale retelling and I just loved it. She sets the Cinderella story in a Miami middle school, then frames it with the story of Kendra, a girl who became an eternal witch during the plague of 1666. Kendra tells us two stories of her own, both fairy tale retellings that can stand alone as lovely and poignant tales, and also shed light on the larger story. Structurally it’s…

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Another Pan by Daniel and Dina Nayeri

Synopsis: When Peter Pan and his Lost Boys descend on a chic Manhattan boarding school, a brother and sister become embroiled in his plan to reclaim 5 ancient mummies who hold the secret to eternal life. Review: In the interest of full disclosure, I sometimes work with Daniel Nayeri, and have even had him and his lovely wife over to my house for dinner. So please don’t expect anything resembling objectivity. I’m a big fan of Daniel and his sister Dina’s unique brand of classic…

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Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley

Synopsis: A retelling of Sleeping Beauty, filled with magic and adventure. Review: I tried to read Spindle’s End when it first came out, and I gave up after about 50 pages. This time, I made it to the end, but it still left me cold. Robin McKinley’s writing is absolutely gorgeous, and I applaud the plot she devised for her retelling, but I never really connected with the story. I would definitely read another of her books, though, because I did enjoy Beauty. Any recommendations?…

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The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Synopsis: A princess who can talk to animals sent to marry a foreign prince is replaced by her lady-in-waiting in a nefarious plot, and ends up caring for geese while she figures out a plan. Review: The Goose Girl was simply wonderful. Shannon Hale’s writing is poetic, subtle, and complex, and she really knows how to spin a good yarn. You won’t find any feisty foot-stamping redheads or skinnily sinister villains or gushily girly love interests. Ani’s lady-in-waiting Selia used the fact that Ani was…

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Something Wicked by Alan Gratz

Synopsis: When his best friend Mac starts acting like a jerk after a fortune teller prophesies that he’ll be king of the Scottish games, budding investigator Horatio Wilkes thinks it’s just a bad mood, until Mac’s grandfather Duncan ends up dead. Review: Something Wicked is a clever, edgy young adult retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which happens to be my absolute favorite Shakespeare play. Author Alan Gratz doesn’t hew too closely to the plot of the Scottish play, taking what works, riffing on what’s memorable, and…

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Beauty by Robin McKinley

Synopsis: A retelling of the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast. Review: I suppose it’s because of all the babysitting I’ve done, but I just couldn’t shake the image of Belle in her big yellow dress as I read Robin McKinley’s Beauty. But setting that aside, I would have loved this when I was 12. It’s swoony and romantic, featuring a narrator who’s my kind of girl. It hews very closely to the classic tale, while adding some imaginative elements such as the whispering…

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Now and Forever by Ray Bradbury

Synopsis: Two novellas by Ray Bradbury. “Somewhere a Band is Playing” is a portrait of an unusually idyllic town, and “Leviathan ’99” is a retelling of Moby-Dick set in outer space. Review: Now and Forever contains two gorgeous gems in one slim volume. I have loved Ray Bradbury since childhood, with The Illustrated Man being my all-time favorite of his. I remember watching the old “Bradbury Tales” TV show in the 80s, which closed with a tag of Bradbury at his typewriter ripping off a…

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East of Eden by John Steinbeck

Synopsis: The epic tale of Adam Trask, cuckolded husband to a whore and father of twin boys, one dark, one light. Review: I’m rather embarrassed to confess East of Eden is the first Steinbeck I have ever read. Big deal, you say–except I majored in American Studies in college with a focus on how literature and popular culture reveal sociological truths about the American people. I was obsessed with writers like Sinclair Lewis and Theodore Dreiser. I was enamored of post-Industrial Revolution American life. It…

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The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh

Synopsis: A shy 14-year-old Latin scholar finds a passage into Manhattan’s underworld, where, guided by an unhappy ghost named Euri, he hopes to find out how his mother died once and for all. Review: Greek mythology concerning the after life deftly mixes with New York City’s colorful history in The Night Tourist, a marvelous adventure tale that’s as fresh as they come. Suitable for young readers emotionally mature enough to handle themes of death and grief, The Night Tourist is rich enough to satisfy teen…

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Grub by Elise Blackwell

Synopsis: The trials and travails of a group of young New York City-based novelists. Review: Grub is a reworking of a 19th Century novel. I can’t speak to its success in that regard because I haven’t read the original, but I will say that author Elise Blackwell pulls off a rare bird: a satire brimming with humanism. I enjoyed every line of this book, which reminded me at times of Whit Stillman’s marvelous first feature Metropolitan. This is a galley I’ll be keeping, rereading, and…

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