This round up looks at the books inspired by some of our oldest fairy tales and collections of stories, from familiar moments in history reimagined into magical fantasy to – from Rapunzel and Cinderella to The Arabian Nights.
Moonchild – Voyage of the Lost and Found
Aisha Bushby and Rachael Dean
Voyage of the Lost and Found has its roots in The Arabian Nights. This fast-paced magical adventure has a wonderful cast of characters, from sea witches, travelling and trading from their Arab Dhow, to colossal stormbird based on the Rukh of the Voyages of Sinbad. Twelve-year-old Amira lives with her two sea-witch mothers on the oceans of the Sahar Peninsula, an enchanted realm which lies just beyond the horizon. She is never without her beloved companion, a cat jinni named Namur, who provides her with the magical ability to read people’s emotions.
Following a raging storm they dock at the island of Failaka, giving Amira the rare opportunity to explore land. Her mothers seem agitated when she befriends Leo, an inquisitive boy with a goldfish jinni, and Amira feels angry, and suspects they are keeping secrets from her. What unravels is an amazing adventure which we join through the characters’ stories - stories told within stories.
The first in a trilogy, it is accompanied by striking black-and-white illustrations which bring the characters and setting to life.
The Water’s Daughter
The Water’s Daughter is an exquisitely written fantasy novel which tangles the magic of 18th century Venice, with the darker enchantments of The Arabian Nights.
Spoiled and arrogant young Aurelia Bon can see back into history with a touch of her hand. This twelve-year-old can describe what happened in a place by merely pressing her fingertips up against the walls. But she’s far too important and aristocratic to bother with actually researching what she sees, she has someone to do that for her. Set on the canals of Venice, Aurelia soon realises that an angry, displaced Djinnya (a female Djinn) is about to wreak havoc on the islands. This exciting and challenging novel weaves in talking statues, political pamphlet-printing mermaids, magical cats and one determined female pirate.
We all know how Charles Darwin set sail on HMS Beagle and formed his theory of evolution by observing the finches and reptiles of the Galapagos Islands, don’t we? Well maybe we haven’t been told quite the full story. In Darwin’s Dragons, Lindsay Galvin weaves well-researched historical fiction with magical fantasy and creates a wonderful tale of emerging science, shipwrecked sailors, volcanic islands and ..DRAGONS!
In 1835 Cabin Boy Syms Covington is on the voyage of a lifetime, when he gets washed overboard is a storm. He washes up, alive but battered, on an unexplored island. And there he makes a discovery that could change everything. But as the grumbling volcano starts to erupt, there’s more than his own survival at stake. Can he save himself and a previously undiscovered species?
Rumaysa: A Fairytale
Radiya Hafiza and Rhaida El Touny
Step into a Once Upon a Time where anything is possible. Radiya Hafiza's enchanting and funny debut weaves together three stories, updates them and then adds a twist and a little dance.
'Rumaysa, Rumaysa, let down your hijab!' For as long as she can remember Rumaysa has been locked away in her tower, forced to spin straw into gold for the evil, book-destroying Witch, unable to leave. Until one day, with the help of a talkative owl, Rumaysa drops her hijab out of her small tower-window and realises how she might be able to escape. A strange boy on a flying carpet turns up, having been told that he nees to look for someone to rescue – too late as Rumaysa has already rescued herself. Rumaysa and her two friends then adventure through enchanted forests and into dragon's lairs. They stumble into someone else’s story – Cinderayla, and then accidentally get involved with the snoring, slightly rude Sleeping Sara.
Fun, energetic black and white illustrations by Rhaida El Touny bring the action to life as the stories unfolds.
Knight Sir Louis and the Dreadful Damsel
The Brothers McLeod
Knight Sir Louis is the bravest knight at King Burt’s court. He has defeated hungry dragons, evil goblins and horrible wizards (but please nobody mention wasps, Knight Sir Louis is absolutely NOT afraid of them). Along with his trusty mechanical steed Clunkalot, and mystical sword (known as ‘Dave’), Knight Sir Louis and his friends are sent to do battle with the Damsel of Distresse, who has been terrorizing the land.
But nothing is as it seems …Knight Sir Louis finds himself dealing with strong enchantments and powerful magic (as well as potatoes…) and the machinations of his soon to be arch-enemy-nemesis: the Stripy Knight.
A fun, totally upside-down tale of knights and damsels, with extremely silly illustrations too.
Broadcaster. Historian. Bookseller - Kenilworth Books. Judge: Salariya/Stratford Picture Book Prize