Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings

It’s time for Top Ten Tuesday, a meme created by The Broke and Bookish.


This week’s topic? Ten Fairytale Retellings I’ve Read/Want To Read

I decided to focus on books I have read and loved: 5 of my favourite picture books and 5 of my favourite MG/YA novels. I love fairytales and stories with nuances of fairytale elements. But, I am very particular. It is a pleasure to share what I consider to be some of the very best in this list.

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

Picture Books:

The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma written by Diane Fox and illustrated by Christyan Fox

Hilarious. Kind of like having a backseat driver “helping” tell a story. Annoying for the narrator. Amusing for the readers. Little Red Riding Hood like you have never before heard it.

The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and GrandmaTop Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

The Princess and the Pig written by Jonathan Emmett and illustrated by Poly Bernatene

This lovely little read manages to link to many classic fairy tales while telling a great original story and poking fun at just about everything! A pig and a princess switch places and the happy ending is not what you might predict.

Princess and the Pig Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

Me and You by Anthony Browne

Browne tells simultaneous stories, letting us into the world of Goldilocks while at the same time we revisit the familiar story about the bears.  On the left, sepia images of the little girl, out on an errand with Mom and then suddenly, lost. Her story is wordless, told just through the images. On the right, we follow little bear and his Mummy and Daddy as they head out for a walk and then return home to find a stranger in their home. A version of the Goldilocks story that we are very familiar with. This story blurs the absolutes of fairy tale right and wrong and introduces a lovely element of empathy.

 Me and You Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz and illustrated by Dan Santat

Certainly not the Three Little Pigs story we thought we knew! A fan of pig power? Girl power? Stories where the bullies don’t win? This book delivers! Kiya!

 The Three Ninja Pigs Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

The Very Smart Pea and the Princess-to-Be by Mini Grey

This book is told from the perspective of the pea! A pea, who plays quite an active role in the outcome of this tale . . .

 mini Grey Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That


Rump: The True Story of Rumplestiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff

Such an interesting twist on the fairytale we know. Loved reading this aloud to my class. Why is this book so special? The children loved the whole idea that this was the “back story” of a well known tale. They felt they were in on some secrets! And what characters! We were rooting for Rump. We loved Red and the Trolls and Nothing, the donkey! We all agreed that the King and the Miller were terrible. The pixies fascinated us. Children begged and pleaded for me to read this book at every possible free minute of out day.

 Rump Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

The Prince of the Pond by Donna Jo Napoli 

The story of the Frog Prince but told from the perspective of the pond and the frogs. The prince is now a frog and must adjust to pond life and to talking like a frog. It is more difficult than it seems. Certain sounds aren’t possible thus, The Frog Prince is De Fawg Pin. Learn a lot about frogs. And their life cycle. Meet Jade, Pin’s mate. Despise the hag. Root for the froglets! Read this aloud to a group of children and prepare for spit out your milk laughter. Chortles. Giggles. Guffawing. The first in a trilogy.

 The Prince and the Pond Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

Breadcrumbs written by Anne Ursu

Inspired by the classic story The Snow Queen with all kinds of modern everything. Yet magical fantasy that feels utterly timeless. Read this to my children who loved the mix between fairy tale and real life and all of the references to stories and books they knew. Beautiful as a read aloud – the words just come off the page, swirl around and we are immersed in the book.

Breadcrumbs Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Favourite Fairytale Retellings There's a Book for That

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

I became quickly hooked on all things Shannon Hale after reading this book and went on to read the complete Books of Bayern series. Fast paced. Lots of magic. Fantastic characters. The perfect book to get lost in.

 The Goose Girl

Cinder written by Marissa Meyer

Honestly, I was surprised by how addictive this story was for me. I thought it would be a light read but I was drawn in to the drama and intrigue despite suspecting some of the secrets unveiled late in the novel quite early on. Futuristic, fantasy/sci-fi with fairy tale elements and high drama.


What are your favourite fairytale retellings? 

Monday March 23rd, 2015

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

I have been sharing a reading photo of the week each week. It is Spring Break so I haven’t been teaching this week. But in anticipation of being back in the classroom with students today, I am sharing a  photo from this time last year. This is at the book selecting table during buddy reading. I love all of the book love that happens at this time 🙂

Monday March 23rd, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Join Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers and share all of the reading you have done over the week from picture books to young adult novels. Follow the links to read about all of the amazing books the #IMWAYR community has read. It’s the best way to discover what to read next.


Some picture books I enjoyed this week:

The Pet Project Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses written by Lisa Wheeler and illustrated by Zachoriah Ohora

I don’t know how I missed this book published in 2013- it is hilarious and an amazing text to inspire some fun poetry writing. Thinking it would be great to pair with titles like Prudence wants a Pet and A Pet for Petunia to have students examine all of the ways children ask for pets. Sometimes, as this title reveals, they come to their own decisions about just how wonderful (or not) a particular pet might be. Both poems and illustrations are awesome in this book.

The Pet Project Cute and Cuddly Vicious Verses Monday March 23rd, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt written by Kate Messner and illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

Yes, just as amazingl as I imagined it would be. With all of the gardening I have been doing this week, this title was perfect. Simply gorgeous illustrations. I really liked the intergenerational connections and time spent across seasons. Great additional information about various creatures in the back of the book.

Up in the Garden Down in the Dirt Monday March 23rd, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Home by Carson Ellis

So very beautiful. And of course, I instantly think art and writing and what will this inspire. A treasure that I had to buy. A must own.

Home Monday March 23rd, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

I Had a Favourite Hat written by Boni Ashburn and illustrated by Robyn Ng

Cute little book about expressing one’s self through various seasons and for various reasons. One hat can be so many things . . .

I Had a Favourite Hat Monday March 23rd, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

The Spider by Elise Gravel

I know my class will be “crawling” over each other to get at this latest Gravel title!

The-Spider Monday March 23rd, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Head Lice by Elise Gravel

Oh, head lice, how we don’t love thee! But this book lets us grin about a pretty constant annoyance. So, we’ll take it!

Head Lice Monday March 23rd, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Hands & Hearts with 15 words in American Sign Language written by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by Amy Bates

Lyrical text. A wonderful day between mother and daughter.

Hands and Hearts Monday March 23rd, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

My plan was to get many more novels read but our house has been bit by the spring cleaning bug and we are clearing out the basement and weeding the garden and my reading time was eaten up . . . I did organize some book shelves though and redid my TBR stacks so here’s to the upcoming books!

I did finish Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell.

This title was just published in North America in the fall of 2014 but was first published in 2011 under the title The Girl Savage and was actually Rundell’s first book. My daughter and I each read this book this week and had similar reactions to specific characters. We loved Will’s spirit and rooted for her throughout the book.

 Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms Monday March 23rd, 2015 #IMWAYR There's a Book for That

Updates on my 2015 Reading Goals:

2015 Chapter Book Challenge: 14/80 complete

Goodreads Challenge: 110/415 books read

#MustReadin2015: 7/24 complete

Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge: 25/100 titles

Diverse Books in 2015: 12/50 books read

Up next? I am almost finished We Were Here by Matt de la Peña and will then start All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. We have a family listen aloud happening right now –  Doll Bones by Holly Black. I have read the book in the past but it sure is fun experiencing it with my family! I love how there is always somebody claiming, “This isn’t scary.” Which usually means we have just heard a particularly creepy part!

Five Favourites from the Week

Report card writing means book blogging is a diversion I shouldn’t be taking! But we did so much great reading aloud last week, I can’t help but highlight five favourites. The power of reading aloud is always worth celebrating!

Bird, Butterfly, Eel with story and paintings by James Prosek. We shared this book in our reading group where we have been reading a variety of information storybooks and focusing on evidence that supports specific questions we pose. Right away we were curious what these three creatures on the front cover might have in common. In reading the book, we discovered that there were many things. Students summarized key points in their writing: each creature starts out on a farm near the sea, they each migrate over a large distance and they each return to the farm after a long return journey. We did note that only the bird travels south and returns and that the monarch and the eel who return are part of a new generation. Fasincating. This book prompted a lot of discussion and further investigation.

One of the books we read during our morning book sharing was not actually a book but one story from the book Tom Thumb (a collection of Grimms’ tales) illustrated and retold by Eric Carle. We read The Fisherman and his Wife and I was surprised at how instantly engaged the students were with the story. There was constant chatter and commentary and we frequently stopped the story to discuss what might happen or what we thought about the actions of a character. The Fisherman’s wife got few points; generally, we thought her quite awful and selfish! We were glad when she lost her grand homes and titles. “She’s so greedy that she can’t be trusted with all of that power,” someone aptly pointed out. Students have been asking me to read the three other stories in this collection.

I found the book Virginia Wolf written by Kyo Maclear and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault at the public library and asked my Reading group to give me some feedback. Should we put this book on a list of books Ms. Sheperd-Dynes should purchase for the library? Personally, I loved this book. I appreciated that it explored sadness, sibling relationships, the negative influence one child’s mood can have in a house and that it celebrated the perseverance of a sister to lift her sibling out of a dark funk. But . . . what would kid’s think? They loved it too! They told me it had a theme of “emotions” and “wrong-side-of-the-bedishness” and “being transformed.” They were fascinated to see what Virginia really did look like. Many read this book again on their own during independent reading. The verdict? It’s on the “we need this book for the library” list!

I have had Albert written by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by Jim LaMarche sitting on my desk for months waiting for the perfect time to read it aloud. It is rather long for a picture book and I wanted to make sure that we had time enough to read and spend time discussing the plot. When we returned from our canoe trip on Monday afternoon, students were tired and in need of a quiet activity. After a little bit of play time on the playground, we settled at the carpet for a story. In this book, Albert fears the outside world, so the author has the outside world come to Albert. It comes through a bird who nests in his outstretched hand. A truly delightful story that inspired many, many discussions. A book we savoured after a wondefully active day. I have blogged about this book before. Read here for more details.

The Tooth was another book I read with the students during our morning picture book sharing time. This book is written by Avi Slodovnick and illustrated by Manon Gauthier. We used this book to practice our prediction and inferring skills. From the title and cover picture, what might it be about? Our list was quite detailed and included many tooth possibilities- teeth that wouldn’t come out, teeth full of cavities, teeth that got lost before making it to under the pillow. We didn’t manage to capture all of the complexities of what this book contained however as this book is also about being homeless, about wanting to do something and not knowing what and about being compassionate and kind. Definitely worth reading for the rich discussion that ensues.

The Prince of the Pond

We started out first (novel) read aloud today. I am so excited to introduce this class to one of my all time favourite books to read aloud – The Prince of the Pond written by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by Judith Byron Schachner.

I explained that Napoli is wonderful at taking well known tales and giving them a unique twist. Some students were able to figure out from the cover and the title that this story would be based on the story about the prince who gets turned into a frog by a witch and must be kissed by a princess to regain his human form.

Today we met the curious frog who can’t seem to hop very well or communicate in any way that makes much sense. We met the horrid hag who transformed the Prince into a very confused frog. Do we think we know where this story is going? Maybe. . .

I happen to know we are well on our way to being entertained by a master story teller and to learning all kinds of amazing facts about frogs. I also know that my students are in store for a lot of laughing and many surprises. Let our story begin . . .


Last night I read a really wonderful picture book to my children: Albert, written by Donna Jo Napoli (her first picture book after many award winning novels including one of my favourites The Prince of the Pond and illustrated by Jim La Marche.

Albert is an interesting man. Everyday, he eats his breakfast, reads the comics, gets dressed and thinks about going outside. Everyday, something convinces him it is not the day to venture out. It might be the damp weather. It might be the noises – the not good noises like arguing or rumbling garbage trucks. If we really want to call it, I think Albert experiences some quite serious anxiety about the outside world. Not an easy place to be.

The lovely thing about this book is that Napoli arranges the outside world to come to Albert.  In the form of a twig, that becomes a nest, that hosts little eggs and a perching cardinal all on his outstretched hand. For Albert, who finds the outside world too overwhelming, he is gently (but insistently) forced to get one foot firmly planted on the ground – in the form of a hand carefully suspended in the air. Albert keeps his hand with a bird’s nest on it stretched outside his window because . . .  how can he not? For days and days. Really! Of course my adult brain wonders how does he go to the bathroom? How does he not drop the nest when sleeping? How does he survive without food or drink? (This is addressed actually when father bird starts dropping berries in his mouth) My children though just got caught up in the magic of it. “He’s so kind!” my son exclaims. My daughter is a little worried. “Mama, Albert doesn’t have a job. How can he get money?”

In the end, the birds fly away and Albert who has been interacting (through the birds) with the outside world realizes that the world is a wonderful place – full of all kinds of noises and experiences. He puts on his hat and goes for a walk.

I asked: “What do you think the birds taught him?”

My daughter had lots to say: “Helping others helps youYou should go outside and fly your heart away!”

Yes, indeed.