grimm tales: for young and old

YA & MG Speculative Reads by Asian and Asian-American Authors

Archer’s Quest by Linda Sue Park - Twelve year old Kevin Kim, A Korean American math whiz, is shocked beyond belief when a young man, complete with bow and arrows, crash lands in his bedroom. And that’s just the beginning. The man, called Skillful Archer, claims to be Chu-mong, a legendary king of ancient Korea. There’s not a moment to lose as Kevin uses Korean history and folktales, math, and the Chinese Zodiac to help his friend travel back through time before the Year of the Tiger ends. If Archie can’t get home, history will be forever changed. (MG)

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang - Jin Wang starts at a new school where he’s the only Chinese-American student. When a boy from Taiwan joins his class, Jin doesn’t want to be associated with an FOB like him. Jin just wants to be an all-American boy, because he’s in love with an all-American girl. Danny is an all-American boy: great at basketball, popular with the girls. But his obnoxious Chinese cousin Chin-Kee’s annual visit is such a disaster that it ruins Danny’s reputation at school, leaving him with no choice but to transfer somewhere he can start all over again. The Monkey King has lived for thousands of years and mastered the arts of kung fu and the heavenly disciplines. He’s ready to join the ranks of the immortal gods in heaven. But there’s no place in heaven for a monkey. Each of these characters cannot help himself alone, but how can they possibly help each other? They’re going to have to find a way—if they want fix the disasters their lives have become.

The Boy at the End of the World by Greg van Eekhout - In a future world, Fisher is the last boy on earth. But evidence suggests there may be a far-away survival bunk with other humans. In order to get there, he’ll need to rely on a ragtag team he assembles, including a robot, a mammoth, and a prairie dog with basic English skills. Readers will be riveted as this unlikely team races toward survival. (MG)

Alpha Goddess by Amalie Howard - A retelling of Ramayana, the epic Indian love story of Rama and Sita. Sera is Lakshmi reborn, a human avatar of the immortal Indian goddess. Marked by the, magic symbols of both heaven and hell, Sera’s avatar is meant to bring balance to the mortal world. Torn between her present life and her previous incarnation as Sita — the wife of an Indian god — Sera is the key to an epic battle between good and evil.

Angelfall (Penryn & the End #1) by Susan Ee - It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back. Anything, including making a deal with Raffe, an injured enemy angel. Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco, where Penryn will risk everything to rescue her sister and Raffe will put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi -  Balsa was a wanderer and warrior for hire. Then she rescued a boy flung into a raging river – and at that moment, her destiny changed. Now Balsa must protect the boy – the Prince Chagum – on his quest to deliver the great egg of the water spirit to its source in the sea. As they travel across the land of Yogo and discover the truth about the spirit, they find themselves hunted by two deadly enemies: the egg-eating monster Rarunga … and the prince’s own father. 

Returning My Sister’s Face and other Far Eastern Tales by Eugie Foster - Noted short story author Foster offers a dozen enchanting and sometimes chilling tales alive with elegantly sketched characters and sensibilities drawn from Asian folklore. Revenge and family loyalty drive the title story as well as The Tears of My Mother, the Shell of My Father and the historical fantasy A Thread of Silk. In Shim Chung the Lotus Queen, good deeds and sacrifice are rewarded, but The Raven’s Brocade shows how easily those rewards can be lost. The most memorable stories follow shape-changers: the fox spirits of Year of the Fox, the lively rabbits-turned-human of Daughter of Bótà and a most unusual tea kettle in The Tanuki-Kettle. Readers who long for a break from European medieval fantasy will be charmed and entertained by Foster’s tales. 

Bird by Crystal Chan - A girl, who was born on the day her brother Bird died, has grown up in a house of silence and secrets; when she meets John, a mysterious new boy in her rural Iowan town, and those secrets start to come out. (MG)

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake - Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead. So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. They follow legends and local lore, destroy the murderous dead, and keep pesky things like the future and friends at bay. Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

Cat Girl’s Day Out by Kimberly Pauley -High school sophomore Natalie “Nat” Ng has a “Talent” she’s not proud of: the ability to talk to cats. Her younger sister is a “supergenius” with chameleonlike abilities; her older sister is proficient in truth divination and levitation, and has X-ray vision; and her parents work for the Bureau of Extrasensory Regulation and Management. When a film crew comes to Nat’s Chicago high school to shoot a takeoff of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off things get fishy: the female star isn’t acting like herself, and Nat learns from a cat that celebrity blogger Easton West may not be who she claims to be. Along with her friends Oscar and Melly, Nat gets dragged into a whirlwind adventure to find out what happened to the real Easton.

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The Brothers Grimm

On this day in 1785, the older of the two Grimm brothers, Jacob, was born in Hanau, Germany. His brother Wilhelm was born the following year. Many around the world tend to view the Grimms’ tales in all their forms – books, films, theater and popular culture – as American. Translated and adapted first by British writers, the Grimms’ tales were changed into entertaining and moral tales for children during the course of the nineteenth century. There were no great signs of Americanization.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, however, American writers, illustrators, playwrights, and filmmakers began to experiment with the tales and transform them into American stories, whether produced for young or old. Any allusion to Germanic qualities or characteristics of the Grimms’ tales was minimal. Nevertheless, the Grimms’ tales did become a kind of exotic brand that connoted fairy tale, and fairy tale was associated with children’s culture. The most significant American adaptation of a Grimm tale was Walt Disney’s animated film, Snow White in 1937.