Monday, December 13, 2010

Some fractured fairy-tales, and a visit with Kubla Khan

It's time for some silly fun (and a little exciting history too). Here are some recent books that will make you laugh and one that's just plain fascinating! Find them on BookBag's Amazon and World Catalog search boxes, and enjoy a bit of reading that's just for laughs. Then meet Kubla Khan, who really knew how to throw a party!

There's a Princess in the Palace, by Zoƫ B. Alley; illustrated by R. W. Alley (Roaring Brook Press) Picture Book. In these slightly fractured fairy tales that are illustrated in comic-book style, Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and two other well-known princesses share a surprising connection. With funny references to modern times (such as Cinderella wishing that chocolate cupcakes were invented because they'd make her feel better), a pair of wisecracking mice who provide commentary on each tale, and lots of wordplay, these fresh takes on the traditional stories will delight fans of strong-minded princesses and "punny" humor.

Cloaked in Red, by Vivian Vande Velde (Marshall Cavendish) Fractured Fairy Tales. Author Vivian Vande Velde has a beef with Little Red Riding Hood: in her opinion, it's "the perfect example of the exact opposite of a good story." Think about it: a girl who can't tell her granny from a member of another species? Parents who name their kid after an article of clothing? Here, Vande Velde offers up eight new takes on the familiar story that are unexpected, funny, and deliciously irreverent. Don't judge Cloaked in Red by its serious-looking cover; it's a light, witty, and quick read.

The Familiars, by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson; illustrated by Peter Chan and Kei Acedera (Harper) Fantasy. Aldwyn is a resourceful stray cat who ducks inside a magic shop in order to hide from someone who's chasing him. Then Jack, a wizard-in-training, comes into the store to select his familiar (a magical animal companion) and adopts Aldwyn, who plays along despite having no powers. Jack's new cat may be an imposter when it comes to magic, but when Jack and two of his classmates are kidnapped, Aldwyn is determined to help the other students' familiars--Skylar, a bossy blue jay, and Gilbert, a bumbling tree frog--rescue them. Chock full of action, humor, and adventure, The Familiars is a real page-turner.

Kubla Khan: The Emperor of Everything, by Kathleen Krull; illustrated by Robert Byrd (Viking) Nonfiction Picture Book. With clear, thoroughly researched writing that's fun to read and artwork that is colorful, dramatic, and intricately detailed, this biography of Kubla Khan Genghis' grandson, is a fascinating total package. That's fitting, since Kubla Khan himself was quite impressive: he built the imperial city that is now Beijing, fathered 100 children, and was known for throwing lavish birthday parties in his own honor for up to 40,000 guests. If this book about Khan, his massive empire, and its far-reaching effects makes you want to read more about life during his time, check out Geraldine McCaughrean's fictional book The Kite Rider.

Lulu and the Brontosaurus, by Judith Viorst; illustrated by Lane Smith (Atheneum
Books) Fiction. Lulu is a major brat whose parents always give her every single thing she wants--until one year, she asks for a pet brontosaurus for her birthday. When her parents say no (a word that Lulu isn't used to hearing), Lulu throws a screaming fit, but that doesn't change their answer. So, Lulu decides to go into the forest and get a brontosaurus herself! In this silly, sarcastic story, Lulu is in for a big surprise...and readers get to pick their favorite of three different endings.

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