Stories are everywhere, so putting together this column was a challenge. I love stories, and nearly every book tells a good story! So I decided to focus on books that look at storytelling itself in a new way. Enjoy these books about stories for girls, which are just a tiny fraction of all the amazing stories out there!
Old Stories in New Clothes
I love books that look at old stories like fairy tales and myths in new ways. If you like these types of stories, too, or if you’d like to try one out, get started with one of these!
- Ursula Vernon’s Hamster Princess series are funny graphic novels that give old fairy tales new spins starring Princess Harriet Hamsterbone, a hamster! In the newest installment, which will be out in May, Harriet travels up a beanstalk where she encounters a giant rabbit holding two mysterious creatures captive. It’s time for Harriet to organize a rescue mission in Giant Trouble! Make sure to check out the first three books in the series, too, which are already available: Harriet the Invincible, Of Mice and Magic, and Ratpunzel. And don’t miss our podcast interview with Ursula Vernon, which will go live on the site April 1!
- People often consider Snow White to be a story about a girl who solves her problems by running away, cleaning house, and waiting for her prince to come. But Matt Phelan’s graphic novel version of Snow White sets the story during the great depression, and puts Snow White in the middle of a murder mystery. In this version, Snow’s father is a stockbroker, her stepmother is obsessed with the stock market, and the seven “dwarfs” are orphaned children. The black and white illustrations make you feel like you are watching an old movie!
- In The Metropolitans by Carol Goodman, orphan Madge meets a Native American boy who has escaped from boarding school, a German immigrant, and the Japanese-American daughter of the museum curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The year is 1941, and the arrest of the curator on suspicion that he was involved in the Pearl Harbor attack sets the friends in motion to help his daughter and her family. That’s when they discover the existence of an ancient book of King Arthur legends that the Nazis might be using to send coded messages. But that’s not all — their involvement with the book awakens their ability to share thoughts with legendary figures from the King Arthur stories!
- If you like to have a little more control over your journey through a well-known story, check out the You Choose interactive mythological adventures, which allow you to read as a character in a Greek myth! For example, in Hades and the Underworld, you can read as the goddesses Persephone or Demeter, or as the heroes Theseus or Hercules. There are almost 10 books in the series, so if you enjoy your journey through Greek mythology, there are lots more paths to explore!
- Another way to make stories come to life is to do craft projects related to well-known tales. Sarah Keen’s new book, Topsy-Turvy Knitted Dolls, lets you do just that. Each knitted doll is “reversible” for different aspects of the story. Little Red Riding Hood reverses to a wolf in Granny’s clothing, while Cinderella reverses from her rags to her ball gown. These knitting projects involve advanced techniques, so beginners might need to get some practice in before tackling them. You can also consider working with a more experienced knitter if you are a beginner!
The Power of Storytelling
Telling stories is a powerful act — and nothing shows that more than these two fantasy books!
- In The Bone Snatcher by Charlotte Salter, Sophie Seacove is a storyteller devoted to telling the story about what her world would be like if madness hadn’t taken over. She imagines what life would be like if her parents hadn’t abandoned her, or if she wasn’t trapped in a decaying mansion surrounded by sea monsters. Soon, she learns that the mansion has stories of its own, including the story behind the Monster Box, which might hold the key to Sophie’s escape. Now, Sophie must focus on getting out of the mansion and off the island where she is imprisoned — so that she will have a whole new story to tell.
- In The Forbidden Library series by Django Wexler, Alice is a Reader, which means she has the power to enter into the world of books. She uses her magical ability to bring her through adventures as she searches for the answers behind her father’s disappearance and tries to discover whether she can trust her uncle or the other Readers. You can follow her journey through storytelling in The Forbidden Library, the Mad Apprentice, and The Palace of Glass.
Storytelling in Real Life
Storytelling doesn’t have to happen in fantastical realms to be powerful. These three stories show how powerful stories can be in the midst of normal life, too.
- In Zoe in Wonderland by Brenda Woods, Zoe is happy with her regular life helping out at her parents’ exotic plant store — as long as she can escape into elaborate daydreams whenever she chooses. But when an astronomer from Madagascar comes to the shop, he gives Zoe a glimpse into a bigger life beyond the family business and the stories she tells herself — and her desire for REAL adventures sparks her life to change in ways both big and small.
- Winnie just wants to spend her time hanging out with friends, catching up on homework, and writing a great story for an upcoming contest — but then her parents announce that they are getting divorced, ruining all her best-laid plans. Now she has to split her time between her mom and dad. To deal with the frustration of losing control over her own life, she barricades herself in her tree house where she can make the rules. Her friends love the idea and they join her — but with 10 kids in one tree house, Winnie soon learns that life inside the tree house can be just as complicated as life on the outside. The Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff will be available in May, so make sure to make note to look for it then if you’re interested!
- The first question we always ask authors in our podcast series is where they get their story ideas. Lois Lowry, author of The Giver, Number the Stars, and dozens of other books for kids, says she gets that question all the time, too. She created Looking Back, a book that includes memories and photographs from her life, to answer that question — and to tell her own story.
What about you? Have you read any of the books on the list? Do you have favorite books about storytelling? Let me know by leaving a comment below!
(Also, I hope some of these books inspire you to write your OWN stories. For ideas, check out the article with storytelling tips in the March/April issue of New Moon Girls magazine!)