Old Book, New Trick

Last week on Readers’ Salon, Lori wrote about the enduring appeal of classic stories. As much as I love the classics in their original form, I am struck by the many ways in which they have been reimagined. In that sense, they are the superhero movies of their format, constantly being re-examined, re-imagined, updated and given improved gadgets or better capes. This allows audiences new and old to explore a new facet of a well-known story.



For example, Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland has undergone numerous updates and transformations, including Splintered, the YA series by A.G. Howard with a punk skater heroine, and the manga Alice in the Country of Hearts, which is based off of a computer game. The subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) tweaks to the characters, setting, and even genre of the story offer just enough spice to entice reluctant readers and pique their interest in this classic tale. Similarly, Gris Grimly’s interpretation of Mary Shelley’s classic horror novel Frankenstein involves taking bits of pared-down original text and completing it with Gothically-styled, rock-inspired illustrations. Even the works of Shakespeare have been subject to continual re-imaginings, such as William Shakespeare’s Star Wars.


FablesFairy Tale Feasts

Fairy tales are another excellent example of the timeless nature of some stories. Fractured or updated fairy tales can take many forms, such as Marissa Meyer’s teen series, The Lunar Chronicles, or Bill Willingham’s adult graphic novel series Fables, in which your standard fairy tale characters end up exiles in modern New York City. However, changing the location of the story isn’t the only way to change how you interact with a classic tale. Jane Yolen’s Fairy Tale Feasts cookbook series for young readers offers an excellent opportunity for fairy tale fanatics to experience their favourite tales in a tactile manner, and demonstrates how a good story spills off of the page and into our day-to-day lives.



Mythologies also tend to be perennial favourites, as evidenced by the popularity of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series (Greek), The Gospel of Loki by Joanne Harris (Norse), and the Thunder Road trilogy by Chadwick Ginther, which features a cast of characters from Norse mythology and just happens to be set right here in Manitoba (it just so happens that book three, Too Far Gone, is set for release in September).

Do you have a favourite re-imagining of a classic book or story? Or is there a story that you think deserves to be redone? I’d love to hear about it!


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