Tag: Fairytales (Page 1 of 2)

Fairy Tale Library Lesson

Fairy Tale Library Lesson – Personality Quiz and AI Image Generation

Thanks to everyone who responded to my post on Instagram about this and asked for more details.

I work with a range of different classes each week and every time I have a library lesson I seek to make it as interactive, engaging and possible. When sitting and deciding on how I might make a regular library lesson for a Year 9 English class who are studying fairy tales engaging, I started with the idea of a Fairy tale character personality quiz.

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Book Review: Ogre Enchanted

Ogre Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine – Ella Enchanted #0.5 – HarperCollins – Published 16 October 2018




Evie is happiest when she is healing people, diagnosing symptoms, and prescribing medications, with the help of her devoted friend (and test subject) Wormy. So when Wormy unexpectedly proposes to her, she kindly turns him down; she has far too much to do to be marrying anyone. And besides, she simply isn’t in love with him.

But a certain meddling fairy named Lucinda has been listening in, and she doesn’t approve of Evie’s rejection. Suddenly, Evie finds herself transformed from a girl into a hideous, hungry ogre. Evie now has only sixty-two days to accept another proposal—or else be stuck as an ogre forever.

My thoughts

Ogre Enchanted is as enchanting and humorous as its predecessor Ella Enchanted, and will delight old fans and new readers alike. Ogre Enchanted is a modern-day fairytale, with a strong and independent lead character, and threads of friendship and romance. Simple and unique, this twist on a loose retelling of Beauty and the Beast will delight (and possibly disgust) young readers.

Evie, though only fifteen, is a gifted healer. Her passions are herbs, healing tonics and devoted attention to her patients. In Wormy, Evie has a dear friend and willing subject upon whom she tests all her new cures and tonics. But when Wormy proposes, Evie is quick to turn him down – she has no intention of marrying young. Unfortunately the fairy Lucinda hears Evie’s refusal and transforms Evie into a hideous, very smelly and eternally hungry ogre as punishment. Evie has just 62 days to accept another proposal or she will remain an ogre forever.

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Book Review: Damsel

Damsel – Elana K. Arnold – Balzer+Bray – Published 2 October 2018




The rite has existed for as long as anyone can remember: when the prince-who-will-be-king comes of age, he must venture out into the gray lands, slay a fierce dragon, and rescue a damsel to be his bride. This is the way things have always been.

When Ama wakes in the arms of Prince Emory, however, she knows none of this. She has no memory of what came before she was captured by the dragon, or what horrors she has faced in its lair. She knows only this handsome prince, the story he tells of her rescue, and her destiny to sit on the throne beside him. Ama comes with Emory back to the kingdom of Harding, hailed as the new princess, welcomed to the court.

However, as soon as her first night falls, she begins to realize that not all is as it seems, that there is more to the legends of the dragons and the damsels than anyone knows–and that the greatest threats to her life may not be behind her, but here, in front of her.

My thoughts

A deeply dark and twisted fairytale reimagining, Damsel takes all the usual fairytale gender roles and dials them up to eleven, creating a shockingly reflective story about the worst of gender roles and subjugation.

From the cover and synopsis of Damsel I expected a sweet and adventurous novel about a girl who didn’t fit the damsel mould, who was brave and fought and showed the world how awesome strong girls can be. I expected a celebration of female strength. Instead, going into this book with nothing but the cover and synopsis as a guide, I found a deeply disturbing story about the worst of human behaviour. When Ama is rescued from a dragon by Prince Emory, she must accompany him back to his castle and prepare to become his wife. But Prince Emory is not a kind nor gentle man and Ama wants to discover the truth about the way he freed her from the dragon.

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Book List: Beauty and the Beast Retellings

Beauty and the Beast Retellings in Young Adult Fiction

Updated June 2019: With the release of Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse So Dark and Lonely, I just had to update this list.

2017: It is a tale as old as time, and much loved. Beauty and the Beast is my favourite fairytale. I love the original tale, the first animated Disney movie, and I love YA retellings of this great story. To celebrate the release of Hunted by Meagan Spooner, which nicely coincides with Disney’s release of their live-action film, I have created this list of my favourite YA Beauty and the Beast retellings. I have also included a few ‘East of the Sun’ retellings. The only thing I need to make my list complete? A Beauty and the Beast retelling by E.K. Johnston…. here’s hoping.

 Click on the covers for full reviews.

A Curse So Dark and Lonely – Brigid Kemmerer – Bloomsbury Children’s – Published 29 January 2019

Harper is barely scraping by. Her mother is sick and needs treatment they can’t afford and her brother is being forced to work as a violent debt collector to pay off their own debts. Workings as a lookout for her brother one night, Harper intervenes when she sees a man carrying an unconscious women. The man and Harper both receive a shock – he with a blow to the head and Harper when he magically transports her to another world. Commander Grey has done everything he can to help Prince Rhen break the curse that binds them both. While Harper wasn’t his ideal choice as the last maiden to attempt to break the curse, she continues to surprise them all with her caring heart and determined and independent ways, especially when Rhen’s kingdom is threatened by external forces.

HuntedHunted – Meagan Spooner – HarperTeen – Published 21 March 2017

It’s been years since Yeva hunted in the woods with her father. Her muscles have grown soft and her training lax after her father moved her family to town and determined that Yeva would be best served playing lady to the baronessa, sewing and wearing fine clothes. But a turn in fortune sees Yeva, her two sisters, and her father removed from their home and returning to the little cabin in the woods. Yeva secretly rejoices at her chance to once again roam the woods with her bow and arrows and traps. But a strange madness overtakes her father, who is sure a beast rules the forest, and, after her father disappears, Yeva goes after him and discovers a world that has previously only belonged in the legends she was told as a child.

Uprooted – Naomi Novik – Pan Macmillan – Published 12 May 2016

Agnieszka loves her village, set in a peaceful valley. But the nearby enchanted forest casts a shadow over her home. Many have been lost to the Wood and none return unchanged. The villagers depend on an ageless wizard, the Dragon, to protect them from the forest’s dark magic. However, his help comes at a terrible price. A young woman must serve him for ten years, leaving all she values behind.

Agnieszka fears her dearest friend Kasia will be picked at the next choosing, for she is everything Agnieszka is not – beautiful, graceful and brave. Yet when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he takes

A Court of Thorns and RosesA Court of Thorns and Roses – Sarah J. Maas – Bloomsbury – Published 5 May 2015

Feyre hunts to feed her family. Fulfilling an oath she made to her dying mother, she protects and cares for her crippled father and two sisters. Her family do not value the sacrifice Feyre makes on their behalf. That is, until the night the beast appears at their cottage. He is here to claim retribution for his friend, whom Feyre killed while hunting. A life for a life, Feyre is taken across the wall that separates the human lands from the Fae’s. Now surround by those she most hates and fears, she is trapped in a world of great opulence, beauty and cruelty. As she spends more time at the beast’s home, she learns of his struggle with the blight that is creating destruction across the faerie lands and learns to see the man behind the beast.

Cruel Beauty Cruel Beauty – Rosamund Hodge – Balzer+Bray – Published 28 January 2014

Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she’s ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people. Continue reading

Book Review: Spindle


Spindle – E.K. Johnston – A Thousand Nights #2 – Disney-Hyperion – Published 6 December 2016



The world is made safe by a woman…but it is a very big world.

It has been generations since the Storyteller Queen drove the demon out of her husband and saved her country from fire and blood. Her family has prospered beyond the borders of their village, and two new kingdoms have sprouted on either side of the mountains where the demons are kept prisoner by bright iron, and by the creatures the Storyteller Queen made to keep them contained.

But the prison is crumbling. Through years of careful manipulation, a demon has regained her power. She has made one kingdom strong and brought the other to its knees, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. When a princess is born, the demon is ready with the final blow: a curse that will cost the princess her very soul, or force her to destroy her own people to save her life.

The threads of magic are tightly spun, binding princess and exiled spinners into a desperate plot to break the curse before the demon can become a queen of men. But the web of power is dangerously tangled–and they may not see the true pattern until it is unspooled.

My thoughts

Honestly, I don’t think I have the words to convey how wonderful this book is. It simply deserves to be read and enjoyed.

Yashaa’s life changed the night the curse was laid upon the Little Rose. It might have been the princess who was cursed but it was Yashaa, his mother and their community of spinners who left their home in the castle and were forced into exile. Now Yashaa is grown and his mother is dying. He has little choice when she requests him to take his friends and attempt to make a better life away from their camp. She would never expect him to try and find the cursed princess and could never dream how Yashaa’s life threads, and those of his friends, will become tangled with the princess’s.

This book is the second book in the A Thousand Nights series. It is more of a companion novel, set many, many years after the events of A Thousand Nights. It was lovely to, from the distance of time, see how Lo-Melkhiin and the Storyteller Queen’s tale continued and sparked the creation of a new story. Spindle is part adventure quest, part love story. You can see the threads of the fairytale wrapped up and expanded in the delicious details of this world and its vibrant characters. If the characters in A Thousand Nights remained anonymous, those in Spindle become as dear and familiar to you as old friends.

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Book Review: The Great Hunt

The Great Hunt

The Great Hunt – Wendy Higgins – HarperTeen – Published 8 March 2016



Kill the beast. Win the girl.  A strange beast stirs fear in the kingdom of Lochlanach, terrorizing towns with its brutality and hunger. In an act of desperation, a proclamation is sent to all of Eurona—kill the creature and win the ultimate prize: the daughter of King Lochson’s hand in marriage.

Princess Aerity understands her duty to the kingdom though it pains her to imagine marrying a stranger. It would be foolish to set her sights on any particular man in the great hunt, but when a brooding local hunter, Paxton Seabolt, catches her attention, there’s no denying the unspoken lure between them…or his mysterious resentment.

Paxton is not keen on marriage. Nor does he care much for spoiled royals and their arcane laws. He’s determined to keep his focus on the task at hand—ridding the kingdom of the beast and protecting his family—yet Princess Aerity continues to challenge his notions with her unpredictability and charm. But as past secrets collide with present desires, dire choices threaten everything Paxton holds dear.

My thoughts

An engaging fantasy, with swoon-worthy romance, a diverse cast of characters and plenty of action. Now I am eagerly awaiting book two in this exciting duology.

The kingdom of Lochlanach is plagued by a great beast that hunts at night, killing and maiming any who get in its way. Desperate to end the terror, the king of Lochlanach decrees than any man who can kill the beast will earn the hand of his eldest daughter, Princess Aerity. For Aerity, the hunt for the beast offers freedom for her kingdom but an end to her future of marrying for love. The hunt brings a huge number of men to the castle door, eager to kill the beast and win her hand. And then there is Paxton Seabolt, a Lochlanach commoner who seems determined to avoid Aerity and has no qualms about displaying his dislike for her and the royal family. Aerity cannot deny how drawn she is to the irritating (and yet very handsome) Paxton, yet knows she must marry whichever man slays the beast.

With a great beast, a competition to win the princess’ hand, archery, and a parcel of rambunctious red-haired royal children, is anyone else thinking… Brave. (Although Princess Aerity is said to have strawberry blonde hair instead of red like the rest of her family.)    Continue reading

Book Review: The Shadow Queen


The Shadow Queen – C.J. Redwine – Ravenspire #1 –

♥♥♥ ♥


Lorelai Diederich, crown princess and fugitive at large, has one mission: kill the wicked queen who took both the Ravenspire throne and the life of her father. To do that, Lorelai needs to use the one weapon she and Queen Irina have in common—magic. She’ll have to be stronger, faster, and more powerful than Irina, the most dangerous sorceress Ravenspire has ever seen.

In the neighbouring kingdom of Eldr, when Prince Kol’s father and older brother are killed by an invading army of magic-wielding ogres, the second-born prince is suddenly given the responsibility of saving his kingdom. To do that, Kol needs magic—and the only way to get it is to make a deal with the queen of Ravenspire, promise to become her personal huntsman…and bring her Lorelai’s heart.

But Lorelai is nothing like Kol expected—beautiful, fierce, and unstoppable—and despite dark magic, Lorelai is drawn in by the passionate and troubled king. Fighting to stay one step ahead of the dragon huntsman—who she likes far more than she should—Lorelai does everything in her power to ruin the wicked queen. But Irina isn’t going down without a fight, and her final move may cost the princess the one thing she still has left to lose.

My thoughts

In a current era of young adult fiction where fairytale retellings abound in great numbers, this story is epic, clever, familiar, original, fun, and so enjoyable to read. With one tough, warrior princess, an evil queen, a gorgeous new fantasy world to discover, a charming and slightly adorable romantic interest and even dragons (dragons!!!), The Shadow Queen is set apart from your average fairytale retelling.

Once upon a time there was a princess who was unlike any other princess. She lived, not in a castle but on the streets, moving from town to town. She was clever and strong. She fought and trained, and she worked hard for every mouthful of food. She loved her brother and desperately missed her dead father and mother, and she knew that one day she would enact revenge and would restore her kingdom to health and prosperity.

Lorelai lost almost everything the day her stepmother, Irina, killed her father and assumed the crown of Ravenspire. Lorelai escaped with her younger brother Leo and loyal guardsman, Gabril. For nine years she has evaded Irina, stealing from the Queen’s stores, helping the peasants who starve under Irina’s harsh rule, and planning for the day when she can take back her kingdom. In the neighbouring kingdom of Eldr, Prince Kol is shocked by the tragic death of his family, leaving him to take the throne as Eldr’s new king. But with ogres marching ever closer to the heart of his kingdom and leaving destruction in their wake, he fears his only available course of action is to approach Queen Irina of Ravenspire and beg for her help in securing Eldr’s safety.   Continue reading

Display: Fairytale Retellings

Fairytale Retellings Display

Fairytale Display - 1
Fairytale retellings are so popular right now in children’s and young adult fiction. In fact, fairytale retellings have become timeless right along with the fairytales they seek to emulate. Some of my favourite books from childhood, Ella Enchanted and North Child, are fairytale retellings. This display seeks to highlight both the old retellings hiding on the library’s shelves and the abundance of new titles currently being released.

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Book Review: A Thousand Nights

A Thousand Nights

A Thousand Nights – E.K. Johnston – Disney Hyperion – Published 6 October 2015



Lo-Melkhiin killed three hundred girls before he came to her village, looking for a wife. When she sees the dust cloud on the horizon, she knows he has arrived. She knows he will want the loveliest girl: her sister. She vows she will not let her be next.

And so she is taken in her sister’s place, and she believes death will soon follow. Lo-Melkhiin’s court is a dangerous palace filled with pretty things: intricate statues with wretched eyes, exquisite threads to weave the most beautiful garments. She sees everything as if for the last time.But the first sun rises and sets, and she is not dead. Night after night, Lo-Melkhiin comes to her and listens to the stories she tells, and day after day she is awoken by the sunrise. Exploring the palace, she begins to unlock years of fear that have tormented and silenced a kingdom. Lo-Melkhiin was not always a cruel ruler. Something went wrong.

Far away, in their village, her sister is mourning. Through her pain, she calls upon the desert winds, conjuring a subtle unseen magic, and something besides death stirs the air.

Back at the palace, the words she speaks to Lo-Melkhiin every night are given a strange life of their own. Little things, at first: a dress from home, a vision of her sister. With each tale she spins, her power grows. Soon she dreams of bigger, more terrible magic: power enough to save a king, if she can put an end to the rule of a monster.

My thoughts

This is a clever and beautiful story, spun out of simple story threads and woven together to create a rich tapestry that sings.

When King Lo-Melkhiin’s group travels to her town, she knows that he will hardly resist the beauty of her sister, and that in being chosen as his bride her sister will go to her death, just like so many girls before her. And so, she does what she can by offering herself in her sister’s place. At the King’s qasr she is stunned to survive not only the first night, but each that follows. As she spins her stories, her power grows and with it her knowledge of the castle and the people within it, as well as Lo-Melkhiin himself and what plagues him.

This book reminded me of Gail Carson Levine’s fairytale retellings, particularly Ever, in the way it was written and the great layers of depth to the story. Gail Carson Levine is one of my favourite authors and, in my opinion, the writer of the best fairytale retellings, so that is some compliment.  Continue reading

Book Review: Spinning Starlight

Spinning Starlight

Spinning Starlight – R.C. Lewis – Disney Hyperion – Published 6 October 2015



Sixteen-year-old heiress and paparazzi darling Liddi Jantzen hates the spotlight. But as the only daughter in the most powerful tech family in the galaxy, it’s hard to escape it. So when a group of men show up at her house uninvited, she assumes it’s just the usual media-grubs. That is, until shots are fired.

Liddi escapes, only to be pulled into an interplanetary conspiracy more complex than she ever could have imagined. Her older brothers have been caught as well, trapped in the conduits between the planets. And when their captor implants a device in Liddi’s vocal cords to monitor her speech, their lives are in her hands: One word and her brothers are dead.

Desperate to save her family from a desolate future, Liddi travels to another world, where she meets the one person who might have the skills to help her bring her eight brothers home-a handsome dignitary named Tiav. But without her voice, Liddi must use every bit of her strength and wit to convince Tiav that her mission is true. With the tenuous balance of the planets deeply intertwined with her brothers’ survival, just how much is Liddi willing to sacrifice to bring them back?

My thoughts

A clever fairytale reconstruction set in a world of advanced technology, interplanetary journeys and magic.

Firstly, I feel that I should point out that this is a companion to Stitching Snow in that it is a fairytale retelling. Spinning Starlight is set in a different world and has a completely new set of characters. It can be read as a standalone.

Liddi is heir to the Jantzen Technology Innovations company. She also can’t seem to create anything new or exciting or even near worthy of the Jantzen name. But when her eight older brothers are placed in danger it is up to Liddi to save them. Those threatening her family have also ensured that she can not speak and that she has no one to turn to for help. When her brothers manage to get her to moderate safety, she realises the world she knows is far larger and more diverse than she could have imagined and that the danger that threatens her family could also irrevocably destroy not only the seven planets of her home but the eighth planet on which she now takes refuge.

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