Today in assembly we heard from Madeline Miller, the author of The Song of Achilles, a brilliant retelling of Homer’s Illiad. Miller tells the story from the point of view of Patroclus, a character who is mentioned in the Illiad but whose story we have not learned until now.
Miller is not the first author to retell a well-known story in an innovative and interesting way. Here are some more retellings you might enjoy!
Wicked by Gregory Maguire (The Wizard of Oz)
This novel (and subsequent Broadway musical) tells the story of Elphaba, more commonly known as the Wicked Witch of the West, and why she might not be as evil as we thought. The novel and its sequels focus mainly on Elphaba’s story, while the musical focuses on her friendship with Glinda the Good Witch.
This Dark Endeavor (Frankenstein) by Kenneth Oppel
This young adult novel is a prequel to Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and tells the story of twin brothers Victor and Konrad Frankenstein and Victors search for the elixir of life to help cure his ailing brother.
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson (Peter Pan)
Orphaned Peter, his friend Molly and a group of boys set sail on the Neverland, fighting pirates and protecting treasure in the process.
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor (Alice in Wonderland)
What would happen if the story of Alice in Wonderland was real? Alyss is the heir to the throne in Wonderland, but she leave her home to save her life. She ends up in London where she meets an author and tells him her story. However, he gets a few key facts wrong and Alyss’ bodyguard Hatter Madigan must track her down so she can reclaim what is rightfully hers.
Abandon by Meg Cabot (the story of Persephone)
In Greek mythology Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter and the Queen of the Underworld after Hades kidnaps her and makes her his bride. In this retelling Persephone is seventeen-year-old Pierce and Hades is the mysterious John Hayden who was there the first time Pierce died. Pierce just wants to live a normal life but she can’t escape her inexplicable need for John. Will she end up in the Underworld forever?
Ash by Malinda Lo (Cinderella)
Ever since her father died, Ash has lived a miserable life with her violent stepmother. Ash finds an escape in the fairy tales she reads and dreams of being taken away by fairies. Her wish comes true when the fairy prince Sidhean comes and takes her, but Ash falls in love with Kaisa, Sidhean’s female huntress which angers Sidhean and causes a battle where the winner gets Ash.
Once Upon a Time (TV series) (many fairy tales characters and more!)
Currently in season two on ABC (come check out season one in the library!) Once Upon a Time imagines a world where all the fairy tale characters live together in fairy tale land under the horrible rule of the evil queen Regina (the evil queen from Snow White.) Regina is angry at Snow White for a variety of reasons (that you learn over the course of the season) so she curses everyone in fairy tale land to forget their true identities and relocates them to the present day rural Maine town of Storybrooke. The show cuts back and forth between the fairy tale characters in fairy tale land (including Snow White, Cinderella, Rumpelstiltskin, Belle, Little Red Riding Hood and more) and their Maine counterparts, including Emma, the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming who escaped the curse and grew up not knowing her true history and ultimately destiny as the one who might eventually break the curse.
Click here for more suggestions of fairy tale retellings and let us know what your favorites are!
It is that time of the year again—time for the onslaught of end-of-the-year “best-of” lists, ubiquitous on websites, blogs and in magazines. Here, we have compiled some of our favorite lists as well as some of our own picks of the year. Enjoy!
Goodreads Best Books of 2012
Barnes and Noble’s Best Teen Books of 2012
Entertainment Weekly’s Best Fiction of 2012
2012 Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults from the Young Adult Library Services Association (selected by adults)
2012 Young Adult Library Services Association Teens’ Top Ten (selected by teens)
Ms. Sokoll’s Picks:
- Barefoot Contessa: Foolproof by Ina Garten
Looking for some yummy holiday recipes? Don’t have a lot of time or fancy cooking tools? Ina Garten (the Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa) succeeds again with this winning cookbook. Foolproof contains incredibly simple and delicious recipes that are fun to make. Try this yummy recipe for white chocolate bark.
- Every Day by David Levithan
Everyday “A” wakes up in a new body. A lives a different life every day, never knowing what the day will be like and what kind of interactions will occur. A has a few rules to live by: “Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.” But then A meets Rhiannon and everything changes. Now all A wants to do is see Rhiannon, and A will stop at nothing to find her, every day, in a new body, no matter how many lives get destroyed in the process.
- Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
Did you read and love Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn? Do you want something similar? Look no further than one of her earlier novels, which, similar to Gone Girl, is incredibly engaging and suspenseful! Libby was 7 when her mother and two sisters were murdered, supposedly by her Satan-worshipping older brother Ben. Now Libby is in her 30’s, living alone, and running out of the money that was raised for her by a victim’s fund. She meets a group of people fascinated with her family’s history who raise questions about that night that she isn’t comfortable answering. When she starts to dig a little deeper, she realizes not everything is as it seems and the killer might still be out there.
- Oddly Normal by John Schwartz
This powerful memoir by New York Times national correspondent John Schwartz recounts his family’s experience dealing with his youngest son Joe’s mental health issues, suicide attempt, coming to terms with his sexuality, and road to recovery that has allowed him to be a happy and well-adjusted teen. This book deals extensively with John and his wife Jeanne’s struggles with the school system and its failure to help their son, as well as how parents can help and support their gay and lesbian children.
- The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano
This engaging young adult novel, written by “Maria” from Sesame Street, tells the story of Evelyn, a young Puerto Rican girl growing up in New York in the late 1960s and how, during the summer of 1969, her life drastically changes in multiple ways. The first change occurs when she meets her activist grandmother, and the second when a Puerto Rican activist group, the Young Lords, begins demanding better treatment for the neighborhood and the community, in general.
Ms. Twohig’s Picks
- How Music Works by David Byrne
Talking Heads frontman and author, David Byrne, dissects the social and psychological aspects of the history of music while also incorporating his personal account of musical creativity (e.g., the story behind “Psycho Killer” and the band’s choice in clothing style). Fun, informative, and, per Mr. Byrne, definitely not just some “aging rocker bio.”
- Saltie: A Cookbook by Caroline Fidanza
For those of you who have a love affair with sandwiches (possibly because they don’t induce food comas and they target all the major food groups in the palm of your hand), Chef Fidanza has compiled a mix of eclectic recipes that she and her partners feature in their sandwich shop in Brooklyn, New York. From the Scuttlebutt (egg, aioli, feta, olives, capers, herbs, and pickled beets) to The Gam (ham, Gruyère, pickled green tomatoes, herb butter), Saltie features a fun array of sandwiches as well as soups, sweets and drinks. Plus, there are a handful of recipes for all of you picklers and probiotic fans.
- Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perelman
I wasn’t going to add this cookbook since I mentioned it in another Nobles communication, but I had to give a shout-out to all the Deb Perelman fans here at school. We love her like a sister. How could we not, when she provides us with mouth watering savory dishes like Pancetta, White Bean, and Swiss Chard Pot Pies, Emmentaler on Rye With Sweet and Sour Red Onions, as well as sweet goodies like S’more Layer Cake and Apple Cider Caramels?
- Explorers: The Most Exciting Voyages of Discovery—From the African Expeditions to the Lunar Landing by Andrea De Porti
Explorers is a fun yet incredibly informative book (and perfect for a small coffee table because it won’t take up too much room). Friends and family will “ooh and ahh” at the large fold-outs that accompany the 53 discoveries of geography from the 19th and 20th centuries. There are plenty of maps, photos and dramatic images that will keep your attention.
The story entails how a high school English teacher, Jake Epping, in Lisbon Falls, Maine, gets enlisted by a local diner owner to take over his mission, which later becomes Jake’s obsession – to prevent the Kennedy assassination. The time travel begins at a portal in the diner’s storeroom and ends in Jolie, Texas. Jake’s new life in the Elvis era leads to a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald. While the history is rewritten, the time-travel plot was terrifying, suspenseful and unexpected.
- The Fault in our Stars by John Green
At 16, Hazel Grace Lancaster, a three-year stage IV–cancer survivor, is clinically depressed. To help her deal with this, her doctor sends her to a weekly support group where she meets Augustus Waters, a fellow cancer survivor, and the two fall in love…Writing about kids with cancer is an invitation to sentimentality and pathos—or worse, in unskilled hands, bathos. Happily, Green is able to transcend such pitfalls in his best and most ambitious novel to date. Beautifully conceived and executed, this story artfully examines the largest possible considerations—life, love, and death—with sensitivity, intelligence, honesty, and integrity. In the process, Green shows his readers what it is like to live with cancer, sometimes no more than a breath or a heartbeat away from death. But it is life that Green spiritedly celebrates here, even while acknowledging its pain. In its every aspect, this novel is a triumph. — Booklist
- A Card a Day (Papercraft Magazine)
Handmade is the new trend. In my leisure time, I make cards. This book offers 365 inspirations with colorful pictures and simple easy-to-follow instructions. I enjoyed this book because the projects do not require fancy or expensive tools to create your cards. The back of the book includes a gallery of sketches and templates that one could resize for any card-making or scrapbooking projects.
Happy Reading and Happy Holidays,
Ms. Kuan, Ms. Sokoll and Ms.