Classic Novel Retellings

Do you have a favorite classic novel? What about a favorite classic novel retelling? A repeated conversation I have at the library is patrons asking for retellings of classics that are easier to read or understand than the original. As someone who has a slight aversion to anything labeled a ‘classic,’ I love retellings. I have talked about some of my favorite graphic novel retellings before on the Info Cafe blog, but for this specific blog, I wanted to focus on retellings aimed for children and young adults. The selected titles add twists to the stories that bring these classic tales much needed updates.

The titles in this list have not been talked about before on the blog. They are also owned by the Davenport Public Library, so click on the titles and put a hold on any of them today! The descriptions have been provided by the publishers.

Juvenile Fiction

Sisters of the Neversea by Cynthia Leitich Smith

In this beautifully reimagined story by NSK Neustadt Laureate and New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Creek), Native American Lily and English Wendy embark on a high-flying journey of magic, adventure, and courage to a fairy-tale island known as Neverland…

Lily and Wendy have been best friends since they became stepsisters. But with their feuding parents planning to spend the summer apart, what will become of their family—and their friendship?

Little do they know that a mysterious boy has been watching them from the oak tree outside their window. A boy who intends to take them away from home for good, to an island of wild animals, Merfolk, Fairies, and kidnapped children, to a sea of merfolk, pirates, and a giant crocodile.

A boy who calls himself Peter Pan. – Heartdrum, Harper Collins Publishers

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Treasure Island: Runaway Gold by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Bestselling and award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes reimagines the classic novel Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson in this thrilling adventure set in modern-day Manhattan, in which three children must navigate the city’s hidden history, dodge a threatening crew of skater kids, and decide who they can really trust in order to hunt down a long-buried treasure.

Three kids. One dog. And the island of Manhattan, laid out in an old treasure map.

Zane is itching for an adventure that will take him away from his family’s boarding house in Rockaway, Queens. So when he is entrusted with a real treasure map, leading to a spot somewhere in Manhattan, Zane wastes no time in riding the ferry over to the city to start the search with his friends Kiko and Jack and his dog, Hip-Hop.

Through strange coincidence, they meet a man who is eager to help them find the treasure: John, a sailor who knows all about the buried history of Black New Yorkers of centuries past—and the gold that is hidden somewhere in those stories.

As a vicious rival skateboard crew follows them around the city, Zane and his friends begin to wonder who they can really trust. And soon it becomes clear that treasure hunting is a dangerous business… – Quill Tree Books, Harper Collins Publishers

Young Adult Fiction

Anne of Greenville by Mariko Tamaki

This is the story of how I became Anne of Greenville. It’s also the story of how I found my true true, and how I needed to maybe come to Greenville, of all places, to make that happen.

In this modern reimagining of Anne of Green Gables, Anne is an ABBA-loving singer/actor/writer of disco-operas, queer, Japanese-American who longs to be understood for her artistic genius. Recently relocated to middle-of-nowhere Greenville and starting at a new school, Anne has a tendency to A) fall in love quickly, deeply, and effervescently and B) fly off the handle in the face of jerks. Both personality quirks quickly come into play when the soccer team boos the premiere of her disco performance, which—in a roundabout way—introduces her to her new BFF, Berry, and she soon after meets the girl of her dreams, Gilly.

Falling quickly into that age-old trap of ignoring the best friend for the new crush, Anne soon becomes embroiled in a series of dramatic and unfortunate events, and quickly finds herself wrapped up in a love triangle she never expected. Is she MTB with Gilly? Or is Berry her true soul mate? Only time (or 304 pages) will tell.  – Disney Publishing Group

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Debating Darcy by Sayantani DasGupta

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Leela Bose plays to win.

A life-long speech competitor, Leela loves nothing more than crushing the competition, all while wearing a smile. But when she meets the incorrigible Firoze Darcy, a debater from an elitist private school, Leela can’t stand him. Unfortunately, he’ll be competing in the state league, so their paths are set to collide.

But why attempt to tolerate Firoze when Leela can one-up him? The situation is more complicated than Leela anticipated, though, and her participation in the tournament reveals that she might have tragically misjudged the debaters — including Firoze Darcy — and more than just her own winning streak is at stake…her heart is, too. – Scholastic

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One For All by Lillie Lainoff

One for All is a gender-bent retelling of The Three Musketeers, in which a girl with a chronic illness trains as a Musketeer and uncovers secrets, sisterhood, and self-love.

Tania de Batz is most herself with a sword in her hand. Everyone thinks her near-constant dizziness makes her weak, nothing but “a sick girl.” But Tania wants to be strong, independent, a fencer like her father—a former Musketeer and her greatest champion. Then Papa is brutally, mysteriously murdered. His dying wish? For Tania to attend finishing school. But L’Académie des Mariées, Tania realizes, is no finishing school. It’s a secret training ground for new Musketeers: women who are socialites on the surface, but strap daggers under their skirts, seduce men into giving up dangerous secrets, and protect France from downfall. And they don’t shy away from a sword fight.

With her newfound sisters at her side, Tania feels that she has a purpose, that she belongs. But then she meets Étienne, her target in uncovering a potential assassination plot. He’s kind, charming—and might have information about what really happened to her father. Torn between duty and dizzying emotion, Tania will have to decide where her loyalties lie…or risk losing everything she’s ever wanted. – Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

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Self-Made Boys: A Great Gatsby Remix by Anna-Marie McLemore

New York City, 1922. Nicolás Caraveo, a 17-year-old transgender boy from Wisconsin, has no interest in the city’s glamor. Going to New York is all about establishing himself as a young professional, which could set up his future—and his life as a man—and benefit his family.

Nick rents a small house in West Egg from his 18-year-old cousin, Daisy Fabrega, who lives in fashionable East Egg near her wealthy fiancé, Tom—and Nick is shocked to find that his cousin now goes by Daisy Fay, has erased all signs of her Latine heritage, and now passes seamlessly as white.

Nick’s neighbor in West Egg is a mysterious young man named Jay Gatsby, whose castle-like mansion is the stage for parties so extravagant that they both dazzle and terrify Nick. At one of these parties, Nick learns that the spectacle is all meant to impress a girl from Jay’s past—Daisy. And he learns something else: Jay is also transgender.

As Nick is pulled deeper into the glittery culture of decadence, he spends more time with Jay, aiming to help his new friend reconnect with his lost love. But Nick’s feelings grow more complicated when he finds himself falling hard for Jay’s openness, idealism, and unfounded faith in the American Dream. – Feiwel & Friends

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So Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix by Bethany C. Morrow

North Carolina, 1863. As the American Civil War rages on, the Freedpeople’s Colony of Roanoke Island is blossoming, a haven for the recently emancipated. Black people have begun building a community of their own, a refuge from the shadow of the “old life.” It is where the March family has finally been able to safely put down roots with four young daughters:

Meg, a teacher who longs to find love and start a family of her own.

Jo, a writer whose words are too powerful to be contained.

Beth, a talented seamstress searching for a higher purpose.

Amy, a dancer eager to explore life outside her family’s home.

As the four March sisters come into their own as independent young women, they will face first love, health struggles, heartbreak, and new horizons. But they will face it all together. – Feiwel & Friends

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Where the Rhythm Takes You by Sarah Dass

Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, Where the Rhythm Takes You is a romantic, mesmerizing novel of first love and second chances.

Seventeen-year-old Reyna has spent most of her life at the Plumeria, her family’s gorgeous seaside resort in Tobago. But what once seemed like paradise is starting to feel more like purgatory. It’s been two years since Reyna’s mother passed away, two years since Aiden—her childhood best friend, first kiss, first love, first everything—left the island to pursue his music dreams.

Reyna’s friends are all planning their futures and heading abroad. Even Daddy seems to want to move on, leaving her to try to keep the Plumeria running.

And that’s when Aiden comes roaring back into her life—as a VIP guest at the resort.

Aiden is now one-third of DJ Bacchanal—the latest, hottest music group on the scene. While Reyna has stayed exactly where he left her, Aiden has returned to Tobago with his Grammy-nominated band and two gorgeous LA socialites. And he may (or may not be) dating one of them… – Balzer + Bray

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