"The way to read a fairy tale is to throw yourself in."
-W. H. Auden
by A. C. E. Bauer
Foster kid Salman Page is starting seventh grade in yet another new school when he's assigned a "designated buddy," eighth-grader Lu-Ellen Zimmer. Past experience has made him distrustful, so he tries to avoid Lu at first, but Salman eventually becomes friends with her and another kid on the fringes, Blos Pease. The three of them deal with the ups and downs at Riverfalls Junior High together, little suspecting that the fairy Puck (who narrates many chapters of the book) is meddling in their affairs. Based loosely on Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream, this absorbing mix of realistic fiction and fantasy "makes middle school feel like a trip through a dark and scary forest" (Publishers Weekly), but it has a triumphant, feel-good ending.
Recklessby Cornelia Funke
After his father goes missing, 12-year-old Jacob discovers that a mirror in his house is a portal to another realm -- the dark and magical Mirrorworld. For many years after discovering the portal, Jacob visits Mirrorworld and retrieves enchanted fairy-tale objects (such as locks of Rapunzel's hair) for profit, but when his younger brother, Will, follows him into the mirror, disaster looms. Reckless is sure to make fans of somewhat sinister, action-packed fantasy adventures (like Chris Wooding's Malice) shiver with glee.
A Tale Dark & Grimmby Adam Gidwitz
If you think of fairy tales as nice, pretty little stories to bore children to sleep with, A Tale Dark & Grimm will make you think again. Weaving the disturbing bits of several Brothers Grimm tales and plenty of his own mischief into a single story, author Adam Gidwitz tells his own version of the (often gruesome) adventures of Hansel and Gretel. Readers who enjoy wry humor, grisly horror, and interrupting narrators (à la Lemony Snicket) will be thrilled with this book -- and might also like the dark but less bloody stories in Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling's collection Troll's Eye View.
Which fairy tale adaptations are your favorites?