The School Collection: Children's Literature at the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library
The School Collection: Children's Literature at the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library

THE SSHEL CHILDREN'S LITERATURE BLOG

February 2, 2015

The Art of Letter Writing: A Special Way to Share Stories

Though most of us would probably say letter writing is low on our preferred means of communication, the written word is still essential for staying in touch. We email, text, and leave comments for each other on social media. While our means of communication today are much more efficient, there is something very personal and special about receiving a letter from someone we love. When we think of correspondence through letters, we think of history, of times when things were much slower. We might think of grand, romantic declarations of love or top secret war messages being sent this way. When we get the opportunity to read stories that are told through letters sent back and forth between characters, it puts us right in the moment, sharing those experiences with the writers; it puts us in suspense, because we only know what the letters tell us. When looking for children's and teen's books about letter writing, or books written in the epistolary format, try searching the subject phrases "juvenile fiction" or "juvenile literature" with terms like "epistolary," "correspondence," or "letters."

Picture Books

Bellisario, Gina.
The Twelve Days of Christmas in Illinois. 2012.
Mia writes a letter home each of the twelve days she spends exploring the state of Illinois at Christmastime, as her cousin Sam shows her everything from the state capital, Springfield, to historic Route 66. Includes facts about Illinois.
[SSHEL S Collection S. B4173t]

Daywalt, Drew.
The Day the Crayons Quit. 2013.
When Duncan arrives at school one morning, he finds a stack of letters, one from each of his crayons, complaining about how he uses them.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children's Books SE. D337d]

Luna, Tom.
Letters Forever / Cartas Para Siempre. 2012.
Missing her grandfather who has moved from Texas back home to Mexico, Lela tries to ride her bike to see him. Since this is unsuccessful, she writes letters to him until she grows up and is able to visit him in person. (Bilingual. Parallel text in English and Spanish.)
[SSHEL S Collection S. L9715l]

Moore, Marian and Kensington, Mary Jane.
Dear Cinderella. 2012.
Cinderella and Snow White exchange letters and become friends as they tell each other about the problems they face with their stepmothers and other events in their lives.
[SSHEL S Collection Q. SE. M7811d]

Orloff, Karen Kaufman.
I Wanna New Room. 2010.
Through a series of brief letters to his parents, Alex presents all the reasons why he should not have to share a room with his younger brother.
[SSHEL S Collection Q. SE. Or55iw]

Stanton, Melissa.
My Pen Pal, Santa. 2013.
When Ava writes a thank you to Santa in January, he writes back and sets off a year's worth of correspondence where they exchange information about their daily lives and discuss their shared love of Christmas.
[SSHEL S Collection SE. St262m]

Stein, David Ezra.
Love, Mouserella. 2011.
"This is my letter I wrote to Grandmouse because I miss her. She went back to the country and I'm in the city. Mama said why don't I write her a letter, so I did."
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children's Books SE. St341lo]

Stewart, Sarah.
The Gardener. 1997.
A series of letters relating what happens when, after her father loses his job, Lydia Grace goes to live with her Uncle Jim in the city but takes her love for gardening with her.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children's Books SE. St495g]

Tonatiuh, Duncan.
Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin. 2010.
Two cousins, one in Mexico and one in New York City, write to each other and learn that even though their daily lives differ, at heart the boys are very similar. In English with some Spanish words = En inglés con algunas palabras en español.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children's Books Q. SE. T61d]

Intermediate and Young Adult Fiction

Cleary, Beverly.
Dear Mr. Henshaw. 1983.
In his letters to his favorite author, ten-year-old Leigh reveals his problems in coping with his parents' divorce, being the new boy in school, and generally finding his own place in the world.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children's Books S. C58d]

Fleming, David.
The Saturday Boy. 2013.
Every school day seems to bring more trouble to eleven-year-old Derek, whose former best friend bullies him, while at home he deals with the long absence of his father, a Blackhawk helicopter pilot, and his mother's sudden moodiness. His only source of comfort are the letters from his dad, which he saves in an old lunchbox and reads over and over, wishing that his dad could come home.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children's Books S. F631s]

Hest, Amy.
Letters to Leo. 2012.
In a series of letters to her new dog, fourth-grader Annie Rossi relates her daily exploits and remembers her mother.
[SSHEL S Collection S. H469le]

House, Silas and Vaswani, Neela.
Same Sun Here. 2012.
A twelve-year-old Indian immigrant in New York City and a Kentucky coal miner's son become pen pals, and eventually best friends, through a series of revealing letters exploring such topics as environmental activism, immigration, and racism.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children's Books S. H8167s]

Johnson, Maureen.
13 Little Blue Envelopes. 2005.
When seventeen-year-old Ginny receives a packet of mysterious envelopes from her favorite aunt, she leaves New Jersey to criss-cross Europe on a sort of scavenger hunt that transforms her life.
[The Center for Children's Books S. J635t and Uni High Fiction J635t]
The Last Little Blue Envelope. 2011.
Seventeen-year-old Ginny Blackstone precipitously travels from her home in New Jersey to London when she receives a message from an unknown man telling her he has the letters that were stolen just before she completed a series of mysterious tasks assigned by her now dead aunt, an artist.
[SSHEL S Collection S. J635l and Uni High Fiction J635l]

Klise, Kate.
Dying to Meet You. 2009.
In this story told mostly through letters, children's book author, I. B. Grumply, gets more than he bargained for when he rents a quiet place to write for the summer.
[The Center for Children's Books S. K689dy]
Over My Dead Body. 2009.
In this story told mostly through letters, busybody Dick Tater tries to ban Halloween and ghost stories, as well as to break up the popular writing team of I. B. Grumply, ghost Olive C. Spence, and eleven-year-old illustrator Seymour Hope.
[SSHEL S Collection S. K689o]
Till Death Do Us Bark. 2011.
In this story told mostly through letters, Noah Breth's feuding children come to Ghastly, Illinois, to follow a trail of limericks to their inheritance, while Seymour tries to convince Iggy and Olive to let him keep Mr. Breth's dog.
[SSHEL S Collection S. K689td]
Hollywood, Dead Ahead. 2013.
When film producer Moe Block Busters offers to make their book into a movie, Iggy, Olive, and Seymour head to Hollywood where Olive, furious at being written out of the script, enlists the help of a famed femme fatale to scare the despicable director half to death.
[SSHEL S Collection S. K689ho]

Mack, Jeff.
Clueless McGee. 2012.
Through a series of letters to his father, a private investigator, fifth-grader PJ "Clueless" McGee tells of his efforts to discover who stole macaroni and cheese from the school cafeteria.
[SSHEL S Collection S. M1905c]
Clueless McGee and the Inflatable Pants. 2013.
Fifth-grader PJ "Clueless" McGee writes a series of letters to his father, a private investigator, telling of his attempt to learn who stole the science fair trophy, thus clearing his own name.
[SSHEL S Collection S. M1905cl]

Non-Fiction

Bie, Ceciel de.
My Brother, Vincent Van Gogh. 2002.
The story of artist Vincent van Gogh and his art-dealer brother, Theo, who were very close and who wrote long letters to each other after Vincent moved to the countryside to be inspired by and paint nature. Includes drawing and painting activities.
[SSHEL S Collection SB. V253b]

Cumming, David.
Pakistan. 2005.
Letters from a young Pakistani boy describe his country and customs.
[SSHEL S Collection S.954.91 C912p]

Oppenheim, Joanne.
Dear Miss Breed. 2006.
Provides the story of life in a Japanese internment camp during World War II through the correspondence of the children in the camp to their librarian, Miss Clara Breed, who worked on their behalf to show the injustice of their imprisonment.
[SSHEL S Collection S.940.53 Op53d]

Orchard, Andy.
Canada. 2005.
Letters from a young Canadian girl provide an overview about Canada and its customs.
[SSHEL S Collection S.971 Or18c]

Parks, Rosa.
Dear Mrs. Parks. 1996,
Presents correspondence between Rosa Parks and various children in which the "Mother of the Modern Day Civil Rights Movement" answers questions and encourages young people to reach their highest potential.
[SSHEL S Collection SB. P2521p]

Rubin, Susan Goldman.
Searching for Anne Frank: Letters from Amsterdam to Iowa. 2003.
Provides a glimpse of life during World War II in both the Netherlands and the United States through the correspondence of Anne Frank and her Iowa pen pals.
[SSHEL S Collection SB. F828ru]

Posted by Nancy O'Brien at 9:41 AM

January 8, 2015

Funny Fairy Tales: Not Your Typical Tale

It's January, and depending on how you feel about winter weather, the sun setting at 4 p.m., and going back to work or school after having some time off with family and friends, it can be a tough month. All the more reason why we (young and old) should be discovering and sharing stories that make us laugh, are entertaining, and are enjoyably familiar. The following list of resources seeks to provide just that: these funny fairy tales take the traditional stories we know and turn them on their heads or poke fun at them. To find more titles like these, try searching the subject phrase "juvenile fiction" along with phrases like "fairy tales," "humor," and any other distinguishing characters or topics you’d like, such as princes, princesses, fairies, witches, trolls, goblins, etc.

Picture Books

Bar-el, Dan.
Such a Prince. 2007.
Libby Gaborchik, a highly unusual fairy, helps Marvin, a poor peasant, win the hand of the beautiful but love-starved Princess Vera.
[SSHEL S Collection Q. SE. B23s]

Codell, Esme Raji.
Fairly Fairy Tales. 2011.
Offers a different look at some classic stories, as a parent and child read before bedtime.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children's Books SE. C648f]

Conway, David.
The Great Fairy Tale Disaster. 2012.
When an old Big Bad Wolf, who no longer has enough huff and puff to blow down a house, tries to find a nice relaxing fairy tale for a change, he winds up making a big mess for Cinderella, Rapunzel, and other well-known characters.
[SSHEL S Collection SE. C7697gr]

Hodgkinson, Leigh.
Goldilocks and Just One Bear. 2012.
Little Bear, all grown up, finds himself lost in a noisy, busy city where he happens to bump into someone with golden hair who remembers exactly how he likes his porridge.
[SSHEL S Collection Q. SE. H6678g2012]

Holub, Joan.
Knuckleheads. 2008.
From Handsel and Gretel nibbling on a house made of finger food to Handerella trying to win over the handsome Finger Prints, Knuckleheads is hands down fun! Earburt and Toeper give it two thumbs up! The combination of Joan Holub's pun-filled humor and Michael Slack's on-the-nose pictures make this a must-read for all ages.
[SSHEL S Collection Q. SE. H7472k]

Lendler, Ian.
An Undone Fairy Tale. 2005.
"Now, Ned and I admire how well you read. But the story will be ruined if you turn the page right now. So please don't." A beautiful pie-making princess is trapped in a tower. Can Sir Wilbur rescue her? And more importantly, can he do it while wearing a tutu? He's going to try! But if you read the story too quickly, Ned won't be able to make the pictures or costumes in time. And happily-ever-after may start to go a bit haywire.
[SSHEL S Collection SE. L546a]

O'Malley, Kevin.
Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude. 2005.
Cooperatively writing a fairy tale for school, a girl imagines a beautiful princess whose beloved ponies are being stolen by a giant, and a boy conjures up the muscular biker who will guard the last pony in exchange for gold.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children's Books S. Om13o]

Scieszka, Jon.
The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. 1992.
Madcap revisions of familiar fairy tales.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children's Books SE.SCI27S]

Intermediate and Young Adult Fiction

Ferris, Jean.
Once Upon a Marigold. 2002.
A young man with a mysterious past and a penchant for inventing things leaves the troll who raised him, meets an unhappy princess he has loved from afar, and discovers a plot against her and her father.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children's Books S.F417o]
Twice Upon a Marigold. 2008.
After a quiet, happy year in a small town, Queen Olympia regains her memory and initiates new plots and manipulations, as the residents of Zandelphia and Beaurivage, now ruled by Christian, Marigold, and Swithbert, feel the effects of her bad energy.
[The Center for Children's Books S. F417t]
Thrice Upon a Marigold. 2013.
When Princess Poppy, the daughter of Queen Marigold and King Christian of Zandelphia-Beaurivage, is kidnapped by the kingdom's former torturer-in-chief and poisoner-in-chief, a ragtag group sets out to rescue her.
[SSHEL S Collection S. F417th]

French, Vivian.
The Robe of Skulls. 2008
The sorceress Lady Lamorna has her heart set on a very expensive new robe, and she will stop at nothing--including kidnapping and black magic--to get the money to pay for it.
[The Center for Children's Books S. F889r]
The Bag of Bones. 2009.
When the quill writes "Go Go Go" frantically on the wall, and the House of the Ancient Crones heaves Gracie Gillypot outside onto the path, it can mean only one thing: there's Trouble in the Five Kingdoms. This time it's in the form of a beady-eyed, green-tongued witch named Truda Hangnail.
[SSHEL S Collection S. F889b]
The Heart of Glass. 2010.
Gracie Gillypott and Prince Marcus embark on a dwarf-watching outing, not knowing that the dwarves are working frantically making crowns for a royal wedding and that they have enlisted some unreliable trolls to help them, thus putting the humans' expedition in peril.
[SSHEL S Collection S. F889he]
The Flight of Dragons: The Fourth Tales from the Five Kingdoms. 2011.
On Gracie Gillypot's birthday, greedy, chocolate-hungry twins awaken the banished Old Malignant One, and unless Gracie can find a powerful, long-forgotten dragon's egg, the Five Kingdoms may succumb to evil magic and Total Oblivion.
[SSHEL S Collection S. F889f]
The Music of Zombies. 2013.
Prince Albion expects a unique occasion when he starts planning Cockenzie Rood Day to celebrate his kingdom — and himself. What he doesn’t expect is boppings on the head and kidnapping, all because a zombie wants to play his fiddle in the talent contest. With a misbehaving path, a romantic bat, and a greedy butler to set them on their way, Gracie Gillypot and Prince Marcus are off on their fifth adventure.
[SSHEL S Collection S. F889m]

Gidwitz, Adam.
A Tale Dark & Grimm. 2010.
Follows Hansel and Gretel as they walk out of their own story and into eight more tales, encountering such wicked creatures as witches, along with kindly strangers and other helpful folk. Based in part on the Grimms' fairy tales Faithful Johannes, Hansel and Gretel, The seven ravens, Brother and sister, The robber bridegroom, and The devil and his three golden hairs.
[The Center for Children's Books S. G3611t]
In a Glass Grimmly. 2012.
Frog joins cousins Jack and Jill in leaving their own stories to seek a magic mirror, encountering such creatures as giants, mermaids, and goblins along the way. Based in part on fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.
[SSHEL S Collection S. G3611i]
The Grimm Conclusion. 2013.
Sister and brother Jorinda and Joringel fight to keep their promise to stay together throughout a new series of gruesome, twisted, Grimm-inspired stories
[SSHEL S Collection S. G3611g]

Healy, Christopher.
The Hero's Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. 2012.
The four princes erroneously dubbed Prince Charming and rudely marginalized in their respective fairy tales form an unlikely team when a witch threatens the whole kingdom.
[The Center for Children's Books S. H3498h]
The Hero's Guide to Storming the Castle. 2013.
The four princes erroneously dubbed Prince Charming and rudely marginalized in their respective fairy tales have to once again save the kingdom from a great threat.
[SSHEL S Collection S. H3498he]
The Hero's Guide to Being an Outlaw. 2014.
Posters plastered across the thirteen kingdoms are saying that Briar Rose has been murdered -- and the four Princes Charming (Prince Liam, Prince Frederic, Prince Duncan, and Prince Gustav) are the prime suspects. In a desperate attempt to clear their names, they discover that Briar's murder is just one part of a nefarious plot to take control of all thirteen kingdoms -- a plot that will lead to the doorstep of an eerily familiar fortress for a final showdown with an eerily familiar enemy.
[SSHEL S Collection S. H3498her]

Jones, Noah.
Moldylocks and the Three Beards. 2014.
After falling through the refrigerator into the Land of Fake Believe, Princess meets a girl named Moldylocks who takes her to the home of the Three Beards for chili -- but when the Beards capture her friend, Princess must come up with a plan to save her.
[SSHEL S Collection and the Center for Children's Books S. J722m]

Petty, J. T.
Clemency Pogue: Fairy Killer. 2005.
Clever and resourceful Clemency must travel the world to reanimate fairies she has accidentally killed.
[SSHEL S Collection S. P456c]
Clemency Pogue: The Hobgoblin Proxy. 2006.
Clemency Pogue and the hobgoblin Chaphesmeeso begin a quest to rescue lost fairies, find a boy-goblin's changeling, and restore equilibrium to the Make-Believe.
[SSHEL Oak Street S. P456ch]
The Scrivener Bees. 2007.
When the rogue changeling Inky Mess tries to take over the Make Believe using the Forgetting Book, feisty fairy-killer Clemency Pogue must put aside worries about her parents and learn to communicate with some frightening bees in order to stop him.
[SSHEL S Collection S. P456sc]

Riley, James.
Half Upon a Time. 2010.
In the village of Giant's Hand Jack's grandfather has been pushing him to find a princess and get married, so when a young lady falls out of the sky wearing a shirt that says "Punk Princess," and she tells Jack that her grandmother, who looks suspiciously like the long-missing Snow White, has been kidnapped, Jack decides to help her.
[SSHEL S Collection S. R4534h]
Twice Upon a Time. 2012.
Jack, of the village of Giant's Hand, is now accompanied by a prince as he continues trying to help a reluctant princess find her family, while also attempting to save a city full of fairies from a nameless curse.
[SSHEL S Collection S. R4534t]
Once Upon the End. 2013.
Knights, fairy godmothers, giants and beanstalks -- all of these and more fill the pages of the conclusion to the Half Upon a Time trilogy
[SSHEL S Collection S. R4534o]

Posted by Nancy O'Brien at 10:36 AM



University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library Home
Comments/Questions?