Fairy tales have stood the test of time for a reason—their combination of magic, exploration and heart has captured readers’ attention for centuries. That’s why we’re always glad to see both new spins on favorite stories and imaginative new adventures set in a fairy-tale world. Here are four recent stories that have caught our eye:
1. The Goldilocks Variations
Written by Allan Ahlberg, illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg. $17.99.
Inspired by Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Goldberg Variations,” this beautiful, interactive pop-up book presents several imaginative versions of the Goldilocks story, in which our heroine must take on 33 bears and even the Three Little Pigs. Your fairy-tale fans will want to pour over this one during story time and on their own. Best for grades K–2.
2. The Spindlers
Written by Lauren Oliver, illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. $16.99.
Like Oliver’s first middle-grade novel, “Liesl and Po,” this adventure about a girl who must journey underground and confront a spider-like species known as the spindlers in order to save her brother’s soul has the feel and charm of a classic. Watch for the “Alice in Wonderland” and Roald Dahl references. Best for grades 3–5.
Activity to try: Invite small groups to talk about some of the questions presented in the discussion guide and then share their thoughts with the rest of the class.
3. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There
Written by Catherynne M. Valente, illustrated by Ana Juan. $16.99.
If you haven’t read “The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making,” you’ll want to after reading this compelling follow-up in which 13-year-old September must save Fairyland and its inhabitants from having their shadows stolen. At once inventive and timeless, Valente’s adventures and Juan’s dream-like illustrations are not to be missed. Best for grades 6–8.
Activity to try: As a class, discuss the role that Juan’s illustrations play in the book. What do they add to September’s story? How do they help us to better understand her world?
4. Summer and Bird
Written by Katherine Catmull. $16.99.
From missing family members to mysterious underground worlds, there are some common themes to our picks this week. Here it’s Summer and Bird’s parents who are missing, and the two sisters must fend for themselves and one another in a world called Down in order to find them. While the plotlines may feel familiar, the storytelling is one 100 percent unique. Best for grades 6–8.
Activity to try: Ask students to compare and contrast the foes that Summer and Bird meet in Down with other fairy-tale villains.
Question for you: What are your favorite fairy tales?