YA Fairy Tales – Cinderella

Cicinderella - disneynderelly Cinderelly night and day it’s Cinderelly!

While I wacinderella - folklores never passionate about Cinderella like many of my little girl peers (Little Mermaid FTW!), the story is one of the most popular and one of the longest running fairy tales in the world. The tale falls under the 510B category in the Aarne-Thompson Classification System (remember from last week, this system is the way academics sort through folklore of the world). The 510B category is generally summed up as the “persecuted heroine.”

Basically, you have a girl who is under someone’s thumb as the primary story’s focal point. This framwork is actually widely popular throughout YA right now though (Katniss, Tris, etc). To draw a line between this beloved story device and actual Cinderella retellings, I focused on those books which played with the other parts of the folktale–evilcinderella - egypt/ugly stepsisters and/or stepmother, fairy godmothers/benefactors, and an attraction to a handsome young man.cinderella - india

Most of the European versions of Cinderella have these three additional characteristics along with certain African (West Africa’s Chinye and Egypt’s Rhodopis) and Asian (China’s Yeh-Shen and India’s The Enchanted Anklet) Cinderella stories.

So, without further ado…here are my selections of YA Cinderella retellings:

  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine – One of the award-winning retellings that makes the Cinderella heroine powerful in her own right. Rather than relying on a fairy godmother to rescue her, Ella is actually “cursed” with the gift of obedience by her godmother. Just do me a favor, if you are going to watch the movie with Anne Hathaway, judge it separately from the book. While a few things from the movie and book line up, there are not enough similarities to say the movie was derived from the Levine story. cinderella5
  • Cinder by Marissa Meyer – What if Cinderella wasn’t so old fashioned? What if she was a cyborg? Futuristic storytelling meets the fairy tale in Cinder. The fact that Cinder is a cyborg makes her a second-class citizen in her world, but her skills as a gifted mechanic help to position her in the middle of an intergalactic struggle and in the heart of Prince Kai. Definitely for those who want their Cinderella with more umph and a sci-fi twist. cinderella4
  • The Selection by Kiera Cass – Being selected as one of the 35 girls who will be given the opportunity to win the Prince’s heart begins as a nightmare for America Singer. She is forced to turn her back on everything she planned for herself. If you want your Cinderella story to be more about love growing between the heroine and her prince, this book is for you. An enjoyment of reality dating shows like The Bachelor would help too. cinderella3
  • The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson – Did you ever think that Cinderella’s stepsisters got a raw deal? This is the book for you if you feel more attached to the poor stepsisters who were only doing as their mother told them. Artistic and quirky Mattie considers herself as the ugly stepsister when pretty and popular Ella gets the attention and even the affection of Mattie’s long-time crush. It is time for the snarky stepsister to rule. cinderella1

YA Fairies – Silent Orchids

Not all fairy-based YA literature has to be on the level of other popular YA. In fact, there are some (like the O.R. Melling books previously covered) that like to embrace a more traditional view of fairy folklore. These options normally have several links to the Celtic traditions of fairies and little people.


The book Silent Orchids by Morgan Wylie is definitely in this stream. However, it takes things in a different direction. Rather than just embracing an ancient story and modifying it for the modern world, she actually uses some elements from the fairy tradition and then just implements them in her own version of the modern world.


It follows the story of a girl named Kaeleigh who was abandoned as a child and is about to turn 18. As she reaches this age of adulthood, she feels the pull to find her family and unravel secrets of her past. She travels with her two best friends Chel and Finn as she tries to reach the fairy realm of her birth, Alandria. Also, the book looks into the Ferrishyn fairy warrior Deagan as he is on a mission that could change the fate of Alandria. The two tales intertwine beautifully as Wylie certainly has a gift for writing and for lovely yet realistic descriptions. The overall feel is very dark and adventurous, making this a great fairy book for guys and girls who prefer more beefy action.

silent orchids


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Make your own paper orchid.


The symbolism of the orchid is a very important part of this book (duh). Therefore, a paper orchid craft project can be a great way to embrace the novel.


There are actually several ways to create a paper orchid since the flower is rather unique in its appearance.


I personally like the written (with picture assistance) directions from Lia Griffith’s DIY site. My preference for this source is that there are plenty of photos of finalized paper orchids and ideas for how to use them. The step by step instructions and pictures make it easy to follow too.






Also, there is a nice YouTube video of a rather simple paper orchid. It is more along the lines of an origami orchid than the Lia Griffith cutting-craft version. This orchid is actually really quick and simple too.




paper orchid1

YA Fairies – The Hunter’s Moon

The new theme for this week and next week is….


Since the fairy theme almost won during the last poll, I thought it would be suitable for the blogs of this week and the next as I didn’t have time to arrange a poll last week. I also wanted to note that the semester has officially started—meaning the posts won’t necessarily be as frequent. Yet, I will be trying to fit two to three posts into every week.


We will start off with what is probably one of my favorite fairy authors though—O.R. Melling.

Her YA stories focus greatly on implementing modern twists within traditional Irish and Celtic folklore. Honestly, the majority of her best work is basically narrative forms of these older stories.


The notable series completed by Melling is known as The Chronicles of the Faerie. The first book, The Hunter’s Moon, starts off the series with a bang and is probably my favorite in the long run. It follows two teenage cousins as they set out to find a magic doorway to the Faraway Country (land of faeries), where humans must bow to the little people. The writing has an easy flow and is very mystical. Yet, it is best for older teens and those with elevated reading levels since the wording and vocabulary can be a bit heavy for younger and struggling readers.

hunters moon



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Make fairy wings!

Not all of the Fae throughout the literature and even the works of Melling have wings. Yet, in The Hunter’s Moon, the little people are described as having very large gossamer wings. They are even shown that way on the book’s cover.


There are actually several ways to make the wings. Therefore, I decided to simply gather the best links to the best fairy wing projects. Check them out to find one that suits your desires and skill level.

Wire Fairy Wings

Simple Fairy Wings from Old Tights

No Sew Fairy Wings (for those not craft with a needle)

fairy wings 1 fairy wings 2 fairy wings 3

YA Guy Lit – Fantastical Dudes: The Monstrumologist

Darker fantasy definitely has its place in YA guy lit. One of the best within this subgenre over the last few years is definitely Rick Yancey’s The Monstrumologist. Honestly, it is amazingly awesome. The book even won the 2010 Michael L. Printz Honor Award.


The story itself follows the lead Will Henry and his tutor Dr. Warthrop. The two are a team who work to track down monsters called Anthropophagi and try to control the rise in the monster population. They attempt to save the lives of humans who have been made as hosts to the Anthropophagi fetuses that will soon eat their way out of the human’s body. This premise alone was enough to draw my attention.


The style of the writing itself is a truly wonderful take on gothic adventure. However, rather than being a little bit intense and overbearing like historical gothic adventure literature, The Monstrumologist is a very fast and easy read. It is truly a page turner if there ever was one!




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Make Will’s key!


While I won’t spoil anything about this key, I will say that Will finds one. Yet, it clearly is not just a standard key. The best way to celebrate this book is to decorate a fantastical key of your own.


Antique-looking keys can be found at most stores for decoration. They look great on their own but can be combined to create a work of art. Spray painting them to a stunning color is the easiest way to make them special. Here are some ideas to get you started!


keys1 keys2

YA Guy Lit: Fantastical Dudes – The Savage Fortress

Finding fantasy for teen guys is never easy. Like I mentioned before, the teen male brain develops differently than females. Many feel that guys tend to prefer more practical and realistic literature since that part of their brain develops more quickly during this stage. On the other side, teen girl brains tend to develop the areas more in charge of creativity and imagination more quickly.


With this being said, everyone is obviously different. Also, for a long period of time, most teen guy lit was only realistic fiction and nonfiction. The majority of it even concentrated on sports—despite the fact that not all guys like sports! Thankfully the industry and authors are starting to come around. There are plenty of fantastical dudes…like Ash Mistry from The Savage Fortress by Sarwat Chadda.


Ash spends a large portion of his summer vacation in India where he stumbles upon a golden arrowhead like that used to defeat the evil King Ravana. Obviously, Ash assumes the item is just a cool bit of Indian culture to take back home. This assumption does not last long as he is soon becomes hunted by monstrous shapeshifters called rakshasas.


This book is amazing and is a great look into Indian mythology. Many people have been linking it (obviously) to Percy Jackson. It is quite similar in terms of bringing an ancient fantasy culture into the modern world. However, The Savage Fortress is WAY more grown-up. People seem to forget that Percy is actually just 12 years old, and the adventure is toned down for that reason. Ash Mistry is more intense though. Several deaths occur and in a rather gore-based way. The actual listing says that the reading level is fifth grade, meaning the increased story, action, and gore can be great for older YA guys who might have a lower reading level or be struggling readers. It is a win-win either way though.


savage fortress



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Indian fun time party!


Pull out the kurtas and sarees! Get all dressed up in the most extravagant way. Order authentic Indian cuisine. Gather plenty of friends and have a mythology storytelling session! Each person can tell their favorite story about the Hindu gods and goddesses while everyone is beautifully dressed and chowing down.


P.S. – Bollywood flashmobs can be fun too! :-p


indian party

YA Guy Lit: Fun Fridays – King Dork

It’s Fun Friday again!


Rather than memes, I’ve decided to embrace the funny in a new way. Some of the best guy lit is actually within the humor genre. Therefore, here is a great selection that is funny and is good literature as well.


The book choice is King Dork by Frank Portman. It follows the exploits of slacker musician Tom during his sophomore year of high school. There are some serious topics investigated like Tom dealing with the death of his father six years prior to the novel’s timeline. However, the inner dialogue is satirically humorous in its own right. I especially enjoy is frustration with teachers who are obsessed with Catcher in the Rye. Seriously…the book is terrible. STOP TEACHING IT! I actually let my high school students make dry erase graffiti on the copies that I most certainly would never put on my syllabus.


For those with a drier sense of humor and a strong grasp of “sad funny” in some situations, King Dork is hysterical. Even though Tom is a sophomore, it might be for more elevated grades due to the humor being more poignant that way. There is even word about a possible film adaption. At the moment, the film is slated for a 2014 release with director Seth Gordon (The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters) taking the helm.




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Guitar pick art!


The band that Tom is in with his best friend Sam is a major part of King Dork. The actual band name varies as the two try to find an identity for their music and themselves. However, taking the music in a different direction can be a great way to bring Tom’s experiences to life. Guitar pick art is simply art that is made from collected picks. Here are a few picture ideas to get you started on making a cool piece of art that is all your own and shows the coolness of music in a visual way.

guitar pick1guitar pick4guitar pick3

guitar pick2

YA Guy Lit: Fantastical Dudes – The Graveyard Book

Anyone who knows me personally know about my love for Neil Gaiman. He is an amazing author for all the right reasons. His work is wonderful experiments in format, theme, and traditional literary features. BUT! It also tends to be fun and relatively straightforward reading. The combination of these two areas is very rare in every single genre and age range.

Gaiman’s main young adult book that is one of my favorites of all time is The Graveyard Book. The story follows a strange boy named Bod (full name Nobody) who is the only living inhabitant in a graveyard. The ultimate Gaiman twist in the book is that creatures that normally should inspire fear (ghosts, vampires, etc) are actually the “good” guys. The bad side of things is much more complicated though.

Basically, this book is more of a fantastical version of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book. In fact, if any high school teachers are reading this post, know that a comparison study of the two books would be AWESOME! You get the classic Kipling shoved against the newer and more fast paced Gaiman.

The Graveyard Book has won tons of awards too, including Gaiman’s first Newbery Medal (since he just gained official U.S. citizenship to be eligible for the award before the book was released). It is great for a wide range of readers from reluctant to seasoned due to the multiple layers that can be analyzed depending on the reader’s personal level.


Bring It to Life (BITL)!

Make your own ghost family!

The ghosts take great care of Bod and are amazing teachers. A great craft associated with The Graveyard Book is to make your own ghosts. My personal favorite is the cheesecloth technique.


  • Cheesecloth
  • Black felt
  • Craft or fabric glue
  • 4 Cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • Various tall cups
  • Fishing Wire or Thread


  1. First make the liquid starch. Heat 3 3/4 c water to a boil. Mix the remaining 1/4 c of water and the cornstarch together. When the water just reaches the boiling point, stir in the cornstarch mixture. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
  2. After the starch is cool, cut various shapes of cheesecloth. Dip the cloth in the starch. Squeeze out excess starch and drape over various cups to make ghostly shapes. The addition of a small ball or balloon to the cup can make a more rounded center shape. You can make small ones to hang or larger ones which will stand on their own. Wait for them to dry.
  3. Once dry, carefully remove them from the cups. Sometimes they will stick a bit, but just gently peel them. Glue on felt eyes and hang wherever you want with the fishing wire or thread.

ghost craft

From Mamaguru.com