Monday, December 27, 2010

Fairy tale twists: great stories to try for fantasy and adventure (ages 8 - 12)

Two of our favorite stories this year were twists on classic fairy tales. Children love the way they combine fantasy, adventure and humor. We loved listening to The Thirteenth Princess, a twist on the twelve dancing princesses, and Ella Enchanted, a twist on Cinderella. If you have children in second through fifth grade, try listening to or reading these wonderful stories.
The Thirteenth Princess
by Diane Zahler
audiobook narrated by Jenna Lamia
NY: HarperCollins, 2010
ages 8 - 12
available on Amazon, Audible and at your public library
Based on the fairy tale The Twelve Dancing Princesses, this retelling captures the imagination and enchants listeners. Zita is not an ordinary servant girl – she was banished by her father, the king, when his wife bore him no sons. Now, she can only communicate with her royal sisters in secret. After Zita’s twelfth birthday, her sisters fall mysteriously ill. The only clue is their strangely worn and tattered shoes. With the help of her friends—Breckin the stable boy, Babette the witch, and Milek the soldier—Zita follows her sisters into a magical world of endless dancing and dreams.

The audiobook was wonderful, but is only available as digital download through Audible. Jenna Lamia’s narration brings alive Zita’s emotions and the court language, and captivates listeners with this magical tale. This is perfect for children who grew up loving fairy tales and are ready for longer, more complex retellings.

The Thirteenth Princess will be released in paperback next month, and so is discounted in hardback right now at Amazon. Diane Zahler is coming out with A True Princess in February, based on the fairy tale A Princess and the Pea. We're very much looking forward to this book.

The Thirteenth Princess has been nominated for the Cybils Fantasy award by Alyssa. For other reviews check out Charlotte's LibraryBooked Up, and Rebecca's Book Blog.
Ella EnchantedElla Enchanted
by Gail Carson Levine
audiobook narrated by Eden Riegel
NY: HarperCollins and Listening Library
ages 8 - 12
available on Amazon, Audible and your public library
In this spirited retelling of the classic fairy tale Cinderella, a young girl is blessed by a fairy at her birth with the gift of always being obedient. But far from a blessing, for young Ella this fairy's gift is a curse for she must always obey whatever direct order is given her. She is powerless to resist, and must literally do whatever anyone asks. Ella is a feisty, smart young girl who discovers her true inner strength through the course of this story. Young listeners will love cheering for Ella as she outwits her cruel stepsisters; they will feel her pain as she falls in love with the prince and then decides that she will be too much of a liability for him, since she will have to do whatever anyone asks her to.

Ella Enchanted won the Newbery Honor Award in 1998. The audiobook brings alive the characters with zest and humor. Narrator Eden Riegel captures a young girl perfectly, with both innocence and stubbornness. My 1st grader and 4th grader thoroughly enjoyed it. Listen to a sample from Listening Library/ Random House below.

The review copy of The Thirteenth Princess was kindly sent by the publisher, Harper Collins. The review copy of Ella Enchanted came from our local library. If you make a purchase on Amazon using one of the links on this site, a small percentage will go to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you). Thank you for your support.

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