Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads

Josh Funk’s latest fractured fairy tale takes on Hansel and Gretel! Plus, a Giveaway!

It’s Not Hansel & Gretel, by Josh Funk/Illustrated by Edwardian Taylor, (March 2019, Two Lions), $17.99, ISBN: 9781503902947

Ages 4-8

One of my favorite picture book people, Josh Funk – seriously, have you followed him on Twitter? – has another entry into his fractured fairy tales “It’s Not…” series. This time, he’s setting his sights on Hansel and Gretel, who just can’t believe their loving parents would hatch an evil plot to leave them in a dark forest all alone, or that a sweet old lady who’s doling out candy could possibly be an evil witch!

Set up as a back and forth between our omniscient narrator and the characters, the story is set in motion. The narrator has a lot more information about the story handy than do our characters, and the back and forth between them is laugh out loud funny. Gretel chastises the narrator for making Hansel cry at the very insinuation that their parents have an evil plot to get rid of them; the narrator is exasperated when the kids go to town on all the candy that the witch puts out for them. Gretel adds a smart, feminist slant to the story, asking why it’s always “Hansel and Gretel”, when Gretel clearly comes first alphabetically; she also points out that Hansel gets to sit around and gorge himself while she, the girl, has to cook and clean, exclaiming, “Get with the times-this is the fifteenth century!” There’s a wink, nudge nod to jokes about food allergies, a fabulous unicorn makes a guest appearance, and a Happily Ever After that will satisfy and amuse readers.

Sharp-eyed readers will spot some great fairy tale cameos (was that a flying monkey I saw), and the endpapers are loaded with enough candy and treats to tempt any reader into sampling what lies inside. Josh Funk’s got a gift for snappy, fun dialogue, and Edwardian Taylor’s bright, digital art is fun and explodes with the energy Josh Funk loads his story with. I read this with my 6 year old; he voiced the characters, I voiced the narrator, and we had a blast together. A perfect add to your fractured fairy tales shelves!

 

Want a shot at winning your own copy of It’s Not Hansel and Gretel? Try this Rafflecopter giveaway!

 

Like Hansel and Gretel, Josh Funk doesn’t like being told how stories should go—so he writes his own. He is the author of a bunch of picture books, including the popular Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast series, illustrated by Brendan Kearney, and recently, How to Code a Sandcastle, illustrated by Sara Palacios, and Lost in the Library: A Story of Patience & Fortitude, illustrated by Stevie Lewis. He lives in New England with his wife and children. Learn more about him at www.joshfunkbooks.com and follow him on Twitter @joshfunkbooks.

 

Edwardian Taylor has worked as a visual development artist and character designer in the game and animation industry. He illustrated the picture book Race!, written by Sue Fliess and the chapter book Toy Academy: Some Assembly Required, written by Brian Lynch. He lives in Texas with his partner and their four dogs. Learn more about him at www.edwardiantaylor.com and follow him on Tumblr, Instagram, and Twitter @edwardiantaylor.

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized

Bethan Woollvin’s Hansel & Gretel serves up just desserts

Hansel & Gretel, by Bethan Woollvin, (Oct. 2018, Peachtree Publishers), $16.95, ISBN: 9781682630730

Ages 4-7

Bethan Woollvin’s back with another fractured fairy tale; this time, taking on brother-sister duo, Hansel and Gretel. We meet Willow, who, as Ms. Woollvin asserts multiple times, “is a good witch”. She only uses good magic, she takes care of her neck of the forest, she’s a nice witch. So when she sees Hansel and Gretel leaving breadcrumbs all over her forest floor, she politely asks them to help clean up their mess. They’re rude, and they blow her off. Then she catches them eating her home! But she figures they’re hungry, so she invites them in and cooks for them. Because Willow is a nice witch. After a few more indignities at these bratty children’s hands, Willow’s house collapses, and then Willow gets mad. And what happens when you push a nice witch too far?

Bethan Woollvin gives readers an uproariously funny tale of comeuppance in this latest fairy tale installment, flipping the whole Hansel & Gretel story on its head. Her trademark three-color art – in this case, orange, black, and gray – is bold and loaded with mischievous fun. Hansel and Gretel sport impish smiles and shifty eyes as they take over Willow’s home. There are loads of details to spot in the artwork, including a little mouse that stays around to watch the action unfold. The endpapers extend the story, as Willow watches the two careless siblings toss breadcrumbs in the opening papers and stands next to a very large black cat (read the story) and a candy castle – her home, rebuilt? – at the end.

I love Bethan Woollvin’s fairy tales. Give her more Grimm, please! Make your own Hansel & Gretel puppets by printing out these free activity sheets.

 

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Middle Grade, Tween Reads

The Legend of Jack Riddle begins!

The Legend of Jack Riddle, by H. Easson, (January 2018, Stone Arch Books), $26.65, ISBN: 9781496554086/(March. 2018, Capstone), $12.95, ISBN: 9781623709075

Recommended for ages 9-13

Twelve year-old Jack has to go visit his creepy great-great-great-whatever-aunt. She wears Doc Martens, a black ballgown, and wears a creepy top hat, calls him Jackie-poo, and sneaks out to play bingo. In the forest. Jack follows her, and discovers that Aunt Gee Gee may have some secrets. When the cookie jar she sends him back home brings forth a goblin that attacks the principal for a candy bar, Jack definitely gets the feeling that something’s up. The thing is, Jack’s in the middle of a very dangerous fairy tale: he’s the descendant of Gretel, and she’s nothing like the lost little girl in the fairy tale. She’s an awful witch that has Jack and his absent-minded teacher, Professor Ambrosius Footnote, racing to find a way to stop Gretel before there are very, very bad consequences for Jack and for future kids!

This is a fun take on fairy tale history, with cameos from some old favorites and a new point of view. Narrated from Jack’s point of view, there’s an interesting subplot about communication breakdown between parents and kids, and he tackles some fairy tale tropes (why can’t anyone just give a straight answer? What’s with all the riddles?) with laughs. The ending leaves the possibility of a sequel open. If you have fractured fairy tale readers, this is a good bet for their shelves and yours.

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Fiction, Middle Grade

Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Spell Thief

The Spell Thief
By Tom Percival
December 6, 2016; Hardcover, ISBN: 9781492646648

9781492641773-pr

Book Info:
Title: The Spell Thief
Author: Tom Percival
Release Date: December 6, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

Summary:

Join Red, Jack, Rapunzel, and Anansi in this fun fairy tale mash-up chapter book series!

Jack (of the beanstalk fame) and his magical talking chicken, Betsy, have always been great at making new friends, like their BFFs Red and Rapunzel. But when Jack spots Anansi, the new kid in town, talking to a troll in the Deep Dark Woods, he immediately becomes suspicious. Everyone knows that trolls mean trouble, and Jack will do anything to prove to the rest of his friends that Anansi is a troll spy. Even if that means using stolen magic!

Goodreads Link: http://ow.ly/rDgP3065Ww6

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://ow.ly/ud3O3065WD0

Barnes & Noble: http://ow.ly/o76x3065WMa

IndieBound: http://ow.ly/9sfN3065WPn

About the Author:
Tom Percival studied graphic design in South Wales and has illustrated several picture books. He lives with his family in Bristol, England.

Social Media Links:
Author Website: http://tom-percival.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AllAboutTomPercival
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TomPercivalsays
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/tomp/

1
A Ship Comes In

spellthief_1

Jack walked through the Deep Dark Woods with his pet hen Betsy tucked under one arm. He took a deep breath of the woodland air. It smelled fresh and exciting. Today was going to be a good day—he could just tell.

He walked toward a small, wooden cottage surrounded by a well-kept wooden fence. There was a fountain in the garden, also made of wood, but instead of water, it was blowing sawdust high into the air.

spellthief_whatsquawked Betsy.

 

 

“Don’t worry, Betsy. It’s only sawdust,” replied Jack. He wasn’t surprised that his hen had just spoken to him. After all, Betsy was a magical hen. Sadly, “What?” was the only thing she could say, which made most of their conversations rather one-sided.

spellthief_2Jack wiped his feet on the wooden doormat and knocked on the door. He heard booming footsteps from inside. The door swung open with a creak and a very woody smell.

A large man stood in the doorway, covered in wood shavings and holding a lopsided wooden cup.
“Well, look who it is!” he exclaimed with a smile, “Come on through, Jack! Red and the others are all out back.”

He ushered Jack inside, where every surface, and in fact everything, seemed to be made from wood…including the carpet and the curtains.

“So, how have you been, Jack?” asked Red’s dad.

“Good, thanks,” replied Jack politely. “How about you?”

“Oh, good, Jack, very good!” exclaimed Red’s dad. “In fact, I’ve just made a breakthrough!”

“A breakthrough?” asked Jack.

“With the wooden socks!” replied Red’s dad.

spellthief_3

“Don’t you mean woolen?” countered Jack.

“Woolen socks?” repeated Red’s father, as if it was the most ridiculous thing he’d ever heard, “I’m a wood-cutter, Jack, not a wool cutter!”

“Er, right…” said Jack.

“Do you want to try them on?” asked Red’s father, holding out two very solid, very wooden–looking socks.

“Um, not right now,” replied Jack. “I’d better go and catch up with Red. But thanks for the offer.”

Jack raced through the house and into the garden. The tree house towered up in front of him. Red’s dad had carved it out of one giant tree.

Jack’s friends were all sitting in the main room when he climbed in.

“Morning, all!” he called out.

Red grinned, Rapunzel did her very best curtsy, and the twins waved enthusiastically.

“Hey,” started Hansel.

“Jack!” finished Gretel.

Hansel and Gretel often finished each other’s sentences. Sometimes it could be confusing.

“Hey, Jack!” called Red. “Do you want the good news or the bad news?”

“The good news?” asked Jack hesitantly.

“The good news,” said Rapunzel, leaving a long pause, “is that there’s a ship coming into town from Far Far Away!”

spellthief_whatsquawked Betsy.

 
Jack gasped. A boat from Far Far Away! His dad might have sent him a letter…

“Yep!” added Red. “It should be arriving any minute! We’re going to have a race up to Lookout Point to watch it come in—last one there is a smelly troll!”

“So what’s the bad news?” asked Jack.

“The bad news is that Hansel’s just tied your shoelaces together!” said Rapunzel, as she and everyone else scrambled excitedly from the tree house.

spellthief_4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance at one of 2 Copies of The Spell Thief!
Runs December 4-December 16 (US & Canada only)

Posted in Fantasy, Fiction, Graphic Novels, Tween Reads

Neil Gaiman’s Hansel & Gretel – A WhatchaReading Review!

I was lucky enough to review an advance copy of the upcoming Neil Gaiman/Lorenzo Mattotti graphic retelling of Hansel & Gretel for WhatchaReading. Check out my excerpt here:

I’m on a fairy tale kick these days. Call it an occupational hazard – my secret identity is that of a not-so-mild mannered children’s librarian, after all – but lately, a good fairy tale just hits the spot. I’m not talking unicorns barfing rainbows, though – I’m talking proper Grimm Fairy Tales, which is really where horror movies probably began.

hansel-and-gretel-gaiman

Actually, the Grimm Brothers get a lot of credit for freaky-scary fairy tales, but most fairy tales in their original aspects have some gruesome aspects to them – Cinderella’s stepsisters cut off their toes to try to wedge that glass slipper on their feet in the original tale. Puss ‘N Boots used subterfuge and murder to get his pal a castle and lands of his own. Shards from the Snow Queen’s frozen mirror pierced people’s eyes and hearts and froze them from the inside. (Both Cinderella and Puss were written by Charles Perrault, and The Snow Queen was written by Hans Christian Andersen.) Fairy tales were kind of like terrifying Aesop’s Fables back in the day; the Middle Ages parenting way of saying, “If you cross without looking both ways, you’ll get hit by a bus!” but a lot more creative.

Check out the rest of my review at WhatchaReading, and make sure to pre-order your copy today!