Fairly Awesome Books

Once upon a time, on a little island 26 miles out to sea, there was a little bookstore.  In that little bookstore worked a little handful of people who loved to read and this group of people loved to share what they read with everyone that would listen.  They even put together a list of some of their favorite Once upon a times in hopes that other people would pick them up and love them too….

Please feel free to comment or add your favorites.  We love to talk books.

Children (something a little different)

The Bearskinner by Max Grafe.  The book has wonderful illustrations… it is pretty dark.  The Devil has a man kill and skin a bear, then he has to wear it’s fur around and not shave or bath for seven years.  If he can do this he’ll be rich beyond his wildest dreams.

Snow White by Jane Ray.  An amazing pop-up theater; when the book is open there are multiple layers of illustrations with flaps that open to narrate the story.  Right now it’s in our window.  Come check it out.

Young Adult

The 13 Clocks by James Thurber.  It’s starts off like this…

Once upon a time, in a gloomy castle on a lonely hill, where there were thirteen clocks that wouldn’t go, there lived a cold, aggressive Duke, and his niece, the Princess Saralinda. She was warm in every wind and weather, but he was always cold. His hands were as cold as his smile, and almost as cold as his heart. He wore gloves when he was asleep, and he wore gloves when he was awake, which made it difficult for him to pick up pins or coins or the kernels of nuts, or to tear the wings from nightingales.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.  A classic for young adults and one of Suzanne’s faves.

The Sisters Grimm Series by Michael Buckley.  Boys don’t get to have all the adventures when these Grimms are around.  Classic fairy tale character appear as these daring young ladies battle for their own happily ever after.

The Pull of the Ocean by Y. Maudet.  A contemporary twist of Charles Perrault’s classic Tom Thumb.  Tiny, lovable Yann leads his brothers across France as they flee from their father.  It’s told through multiple accounts of people who know the boys or have seen them on their journey.


The Skriker by Caryl Churchill.  This play is filled with dark creatures from ancient folklore and mixes them into comtemporary London.  The Skriker is a shape shifter that is after the babies of two English women and unleashes the underworld.

The Knave of Hearts by Louise Saunders. The illustrations alone will endear this book to you.  At first glance it looks like a beautiful children’s book, but flipping through it’s pages will uncover a fable in play form.


The Rose and the Beast by Francesca Lia Block.  Dani has this in her favorites and states right off… this is not for the kiddies.  Block turns nine fairy tales into something all her own and it’s not lighthearted by any means.  This book is an amazing collection of retellings that you won’t shake off easily.  Block is also the author of the Weetzie Bat Books.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman.  Now the major motion picture, but we all know the books are a thousand times better than the movie.  Gaiman is a master at creating worlds filled with magical unexpected happenings and characters.  Check out  Neverwhere, another of his spectacular books.

Sexing the Cherry by Jeanette Winterson.  Winterson is one of Dani’s favorite authors and this book in particular uses fables and fairy tale references to wind you through the wonderful web that is Winterson’s writing. Check out  The Passion, another of Winterson’s novels that utilizes magical mystery (to a lesser extent).

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami.  This novel is one Julia really liked and Murakami is a regular favorite among our staff.  This story is set in technologically advanced present-day Japan  and a mystical dream-like world where shadows are detached from their owners.

The Nonexistent Knight and the Cloven Viscount by Italo Calvino.  Suzanne can’t say enough good things about Calvino, you’ll know that if you ever asked her for a recommendation.  This book is actually two stories; one about an empty suit of armor that wanders around Europe and North Africa, and the second is about a nobleman who is neatly halved by a cannon ball and his two halves, one evil and one good, battle it out.

Haroun and the Sea of Stories by Salman Rushdie.  A beautiful tale about a man who loses his ability to tell tales.  Rushdie’s writing is always spellbinding.

Photographing Fairies by Steve Szilagui.  Set in the 1920s, an old man captures a photo of a fairy.  But will the world believe him?

How the Soldier Repairs the Gramophone by Sasa Stanisic.  A pick by Jeanne, this book tells the horrible story of war from the point of view of a child.

The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw is on my must-read list.  It’s newly released and Katherine Dunn, the author of Geek Love gave it a thumbs up.  It takes place on a wintry island… hello Nantucket.


Clever Maids by Valerie Paradiz.  A tip of the hat to the women who told the Grimm Brothers the fairy tales in the first place.  This book gives a history of the brothers and backgrounds to the stories we all grew up with.

The Brothers Grimm: Two lives, One legacy by Donald R. Hettinga.  A biography of the famous brothers, complete with archival prints and photographs.

Old Man Coyote by Frank B. Linderman.  A collection of stories involving Coyote, a complex legendary figure that exemplifies Native American views on ethics.


Fairy Tale Feasts by Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple. We just blogged about this little dandy… check it out.

New Treehouses of the World by Pete Nelson.  Real treehouses… do I really need to explain?  Plus, the houses and pictures are flippin’ amazing!

Fables: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham. All of our favorite characters have been driven out of their home planets and into NYC.  The ones that look human anyway, the others live on a farm upstate and are forbidden to come into the city so they don’t blow everyone’s cover.  It’s the perfect mix of classic fairy tale and graphic novel.  It’s even inspired this novel… Peter and Max.


more…. Check out this great blog post about fairies


2 thoughts on “Fairly Awesome Books

  1. I have boxes of books I have yet to read and enjoy doing so but the books you list sound so interesting I may have to make a trip to town to pick up a few. I always enjoyed reading fairy tales. Thanks for bring them back to my attention.

    • It’s funny because I sort of forgot about them too. It was all triggered by Wilhelm Grimm’s birthday in February. I started making a list of the fairy tales and thought we could do a window for the store. A bright fairy tale window in the middle of winter is just the ticket. Let us know if you do read any of those little treats, we’d love to hear what you think about them.

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