The Center for Children's Books

Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Classics Continued and Retold - April 2012

Selected and annotated by Anna Holland

Anderson, Jodi Lynn. Tiger Lily. HarperTeen/HarperCollins, 2012. 292p. Gr. 8-12.
Driven into the forbidden territory of Neverland for her sympathetic rescue of an English castaway, Tiger Lily becomes an outsider to her own people. There in the outskirts of the island, Tiger Lily discovers the equally fierce and wild Peter Pan. Everything is against the unlikely pair, but Tiger Lily’s biggest enemy arrives in the form of a simple-hearted English girl. Here is the story never heard—the story of Peter Pan before he met Wendy.

Barraclough, Lindsey. Long Lankin. Candlewick, 2012. 464p. Gr. 7-10.
In this novel adapted from a British folk ballad, sisters Mimi and Cora have been sent to live with their frosty Aunt Ida in her remote country home, made even unkinder and more frightening by the looming presence of a terrifying bloodthirsty creature called Long Lankin. At first only known by scratching sounds on decrepit walls and hushed whispers of frightened townsfolk, the monster that has come to stalk Mimi and Cora as prey becomes a murderous and imminent threat as it gets closer to its next meal and turns the young sisters’ lives into a waking nightmare. 

Bunce, Elizabeth C. A Curse Dark as Gold. Levine/Scholastic, 2008. 422p. Gr. 7-10.
Charlotte Miller is the last of her family. Now the wool mill that has belonged to the Millers for generations, supposedly cursed and up to its roof in debt, is solely in her charge. Desperate circumstances force Charlotte to accept the help of a mysterious and marvelous stranger. Jack Spinner spins straw into gold thread, but soon the price for his services becomes too steep. This spooky, folkloric retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin story, rich in history and folk magic, will have you in suspense!

Cabot, Meg. Abandon. Point/Scholastic, 2011. 304p. Gr. 7-10.
The first installment in a darkly reimaged myth of Persephone. Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera struggles to rejoin the living after her brush with the Underworld nearly two years ago. Saved by a death deity named John Hayden, who helps the dead find their way in the afterlife, Pierce manages to escape eternity in the Underworld once. But can she elude death and John, her ardent lover, forever?   

Frederick, Heather Vogel. Once Upon a Toad. Simon, 2012. 263p. Gr. 4-6.
This retelling of Perrault’s classic fairy tale “Toads and Diamonds” begins with twelve-year-old Cat relocating to live with her father, stepmother, and two stepsiblings 2,000 miles away after her mother is called on for an emergency space mission. Cat and her stepsister, Olivia, are polar opposites. A visit from a great-aunt Abyssinia, however, forces the two girls to flee together after it is revealed that Aunt Aby dabbles in magic. Unfortunately for the girls, Aunt Aby deals more in lessons than in wishes, and as a result, Cat spews toads when she speaks, while her fussy stepsister drips diamonds.

Gaughen, A. C. Scarlet. Walker, 2012. 292p. Gr. 9-12.
Robin Hood and his band of thieves are all accounted for in this delightfully reimagined legend with one twist: Will Scarlet is a girl. Quick and accurate with a dagger, crafty insults, and a clever disguise as a boy, “Scar” is a winsome heroine with a fierce and sympathetic nature. But when the Sheriff of Nottinghamshire hires Guy of Gisbourne, notorious bounty hunter, to capture Robin once and for all, Scar finds herself no longer Robin’s protector and instead the one in need of protecting.

Griffin, Adele. Tighter. Knopf, 2011. 224p. Gr. 7–10.
Seventeen-year-old Jamie arrives on the picturesque New England island of Little Bly with the intention of putting some distance between herself, a traumatic school year, and a broken heart while possibly making some summer money in the bargain. Jamie’s new home is a coastal mansion where she nannies eleven-year-old Isa, but things are not as they seem and Jamie discovers the island has ghosts of its own. Based on Henry James’ classic psychological novella The Turn of the Screw.  

Hale, Shannon. Rapunzel’s Revenge; by Shannon and Dean Hale; illus. by Nathan Hale. Bloomsbury, 2008. 144p. Gr. 4-7.
Set in the Wild West, this colorful graphic novel retelling of two classic fairy tales has Rapunzel and her cohort, Jack, turned outlaws. After learning of the way her stepmother rules the land with greed, Rapunzel and her long hair escape the magic tree tower where she has been confined all her life and rescue Jack and his stubborn goose. Despite many misadventures, the spunky heroine and her thief pal become inseparable, together battling bandits, coyotes, and her stepmother’s henchmen in the grand adventure style of a Wild West shootout.

Hinds, Gareth, ad.. The Odyssey; ad. and illus. by Gareth Hinds. Candlewick, 2010. 252p. Gr. 9-12.
Homer’s epic tale of Odysseus’s journey retold in graphic novel format. Hind’s signature gritty blend of watercolor and pencil artwork and rich dialogue capture the struggle, anguish, and triumphs of Homer’s iconic epic hero as he wanders the seas, overcomes monsters and beasts, and defies the gods in order to reach the shores of home.

Jay, Stacey. Juliet Immortal. Delacorte, 2011. 306p. Gr. 9–12.
Shakespeare’s tragic star-crossed lovers take on an entirely new role in this radical reimagining of Romeo and Juliet with a supernatural and gruesome twist: Romeo and Juliet are immortal enemies. For nearly 700 years, Juliet has been fleeing the murderous grasp of Romeo, who killed her to gain immortal life. As an Ambassador of Light, Juliet embodies troubled humans, easing bad relationships and dysfunctional lives and protecting true love. Romeo meanwhile grows increasingly demonic in his hunt for Juliet and insists that time in running out for both of them.      

Kovac, Tommy. Wonderland; illus. by Sonny Liew. Disney, 2009. 160p. Gr. 7–12.
Alice in Wonderland without Alice? That’s right. Lewis Carroll’s curious world leaves much to be explained. Where is the White Rabbit’s housemaid, Mary Ann, whom he mistakenly takes Alice for, for instance? And how is a Raven like a writing desk? Kovac’s graphic novel reimagining of Wonderland follows the further adventures of Mary Ann, a minor character in Carroll’s beloved children’s story with as much nonsensical play and witty escapades with Wonderland characters as the original.

Lindner, April. Jane. Poppy/Little, 2010. 373p. Gr. 7-10.
After Jane Moore’s parents die, she is forced to leave the prestigious East Coast college she attends for a nanny position, caring for the young daughter of Nico Rathburn, an aging rock star. Jane’s quiet disposition soon wins the attraction of her brooding and troubled employer, and Jane begins to wonder if she doesn’t return his affection. But Thornfield mansion holds a mystery with a revelation ready to crush Nico and Jane’s happiness. Fans of Charlotte Bronte’s beloved gothic novel Jane Eyre will enjoy this contemporary retelling.

Meehl, Brian. You Don't Know about Me; Delacorte, 2011. Gr. 5–9 yrs.
Raised by a Bible-thumping, militantly Christian mother, sixteen-year-old Billy has spent his life as a “ninja warrior for the Lord,” stamping out the devil, protesting homosexual weddings, and defacing anything that so much as suggests the work of the evil one. But when a mysterious package arrives in the mail with a message from his father, whom he believed dead, Billy runs away on a cross-country journey to follow the clues in what becomes a life-altering quest that challenges the beliefs he’s held fast all his life. A modern reimagining of the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Myer, Marissa. Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1). Feiwel, 2012. 400p. Gr. 7-10.
Science fiction meets fairy tale in this futuristic dystopian retelling of Cinderella. Cinder is a cyborg shunned for her artificial steel, software, and silicon parts. Subject to her cruel adoptive mother’s command, Cinder works as New Beijing’s best mechanic in order to pay for the expensive tastes of her spoiled stepsisters. Cinder’s reputation for fixing things brings the charming Prince Kai to her market booth whereupon he quickly becomes infatuated with her and invites her to the annual ball. But when Cinder’s younger stepsister is infected by the plague devastating Earth, her enraged stepmother volunteers Cinder for cure research, which no volunteer has survived.

Oppel, Kenneth. This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein. Simon, 2011. 298p. Gr. 9–12.
In this original prequel to Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein, Oppel explores the path of good intentions gone awry while stylistically building upon the gothic tale of Shelly’s creation. Victor and Konrad Frankenstein are identical twins with an identical fondness for their distant cousin Elizabeth. The three are inseparable. Their days are spent exploring the vast Frankenstein château, all except for the forbidden Dark Library. When Konrad falls deathly ill, however, Victor is persuaded that a cure lies sealed behind the Dark Library’s doors in an ancient alchemy recipe called the Elixir of Life. Victor’s success is pinned against the clock, the nature of science, and the boundaries of love.

Potter, Ellen. The Humming Room. Feiwel, 2012. 184p. Gr. 4-7.
Orphaned at twelve years old, the wildly stubborn Roo Fanshaw is sent to live with a distant uncle in his unwelcoming mansion on Cough Rock Island. While exploring the winding corridors and grounds of her uncle’s estate, Roo uncovers a mysterious garden, a charming wild boy, and a frail cousin. Readers familiar with The Secret Garden will enjoy this fresh retelling of Mary Lennox’s beloved classic. 

Thompson, Emma. The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit; illus. by Eleanor Taylor. Warne, 2012. 64p. 4-7 yrs.
In this newly imagined sequel to Beatrix Potter’s The Tale’s of Peter Rabbit, Thompson chronicles the further misadventures of young Peter and his appetite for trouble with as much charm and humor as the original. After conquering a mighty-sized sandwich, Peter dozes off in the McGregor’s picnic basket and awakes to find himself in Scotland. Lucky for Peter, he runs into a family friend by the name of Finlay McBurney, who takes him in and introduces him to the local Highland Games, a competition that consists of tossing a gigantic radish. But Peter, who has not been paying attention, eyes the unusually large radish with a different interest.    

Willems, Mo. Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. Balzer + Bray, 2012. 34p. Gr. 2-4.
“I SURE HOPE NO INNOCENT LITTLE SUCCULENT CHILD HAPPENS BY OUR UNLOCKED HOME WHILE WE ARE…uhhh…SOMEPLACE ELSE!” Thus begins this comical riff on the Goldilocks tale. Three hungry dinosaurs lay a trap of three tempting bowls of chocolate pudding and hide in the woods nearby for an unsuspecting kid to gobble up the tasty treat and fall asleep, because as Mama Dinosaur says, “DELICIOUS CHOCOLATE-FILLED-LITTLE GIRL-BONBONS ARE YUMMIER WHEN THEY’RE RESTED!”