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And I think it possible that by confining your child to blameless stories of child life in which nothing alarming ever happens, you would fail to banish the terrors, and would succeed in banishing all that can ennoble them or make them endurable. For, in the fairy tales, side by side with the terrible figures, we find the immemorial comforters and protectors, the radiant ones; and the terrible figures are not merely terrible, but sublime.

-CS Lewis


Back to the realm of fairy tales….I enjoyed these retellings for their clever twists on classic plots and characters.

castlethornsThe Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell

In this variation on Sleeping Beauty the princess is a corpse and the prince is a 13-year-old peasant who is unwittingly transported to ruined castle by magic. Sand does not know how or why he is there, but as he realizes that he is trapped by the vicious thorn hedge outside he begins repairing things he needs for survival. His repairs and kindness work their own magic, reviving the tween princess and answering a decades-old question: What happened to the castle?

breadcrumbsBreadcrumbs by Anne Ursu

Hazel and Jack. Jack and Hazel. Best friends since age 6, it takes the magical equivalent of a poison dart to separate the two. When Jack grows distant and then disappears into the woods with a mysterious snow queen, Hazel takes it upon herself to save him, despite warnings that he might not wish to come home. Using the powerful imagination that is the bane of her fifth-grade teachers, Hazel confronts warped bits and pieces of fairy tales and children’s stories as she makes her way to her best friend. In the end, it’s Hazel’s new-found willingness to confront reality for Jack’s sake that saves them both. A haunting and at times cruelly beautiful book about growing up, loss, friendship, and change.