Fairy Tales from Cold Places

Russia and Slavic folktales are a hot basis for several YA fantasy series that have been making waves in the last few years.   Some of this interest has been driven by the popularity of the television series “American Gods” and the prominent place of Slavic folk religions, but, undoubtedly, some of it is driven by the classical appeal of the old fairy tales and folk tales about the Firebird and Baba Yaga.  Those long cold winter nights in the northern and central part of Europe has given rise to some beautiful tales that have been reworked into some fresh YA fantasies that are suspenseful, thrilling, and intriguing with unexpected plot twists and turns.   McLure Library has several of these series available for check out.

Vassa in the Night

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter based in the very old, Baba Yaga tales from Central Europe and Russia, with a very new setting, Brooklyn, New York.  This novel comes complete with a witch named Babs Yaga.

Grisha Trilogy

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The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo took the YA fantasy world by storm a few years ago.  The novels, are set in a world that is reminiscent of Imperial Russia and filled with all the beauty and brutality of that history, and folk life, combined with the perils and power of the 20th Century Soviet Union with all of that destructive firepower.  McLure Library has all three of these novels available for check-out.

Crown’s GAme

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Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye, and its sequel Crown’s Fate, is a series set in Imperial Russia in the 19th Century when Russia was invaded by France and the Ottoman Empire .  The Tsar initiates the Crown’s Game.  This is a duel to see which of two teenage enchanters will become the Royal Enchanter to the Tsar.  These novels are filled with romance and danger based in the tales of Old Russia.

Girl At Midnight

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The Girl At Midnight trilogy is set in a dystopian world under New York City and involves the hunt for a powerful Firebird and the New York City subway system.  McLure Library has the first two of the three books in this trilogy for series for YA readers.

If you are interested in these titles and want help in getting them, just give us a call at McLure Library.  205-348-6055 and we will be happy to help.

Feel the Heat! – Cool Northern Mythology

Take-offs and mashups using mythology as a starting point for YA novels has been a recent trend that shows no signs of abating and the fantasy genre is quickly diversifying its mythology base.  More diverse myths are being brought to the attention of readers and movie goers everywhere and McLure has plenty of titles for you that will keep you in the know when it comes to these myths and legends.

Now that the Dog Days of Summer are over and we are all ready to cozy up with warm drinks and good books that are perfect for those long winter nights, why not cozy up with the imaginative series based on Egyptian, Norse, Chinese, and Middle Eastern myths that are in McLure library?

Middle Grade author, Rick Riordan made his name retelling the Perseus, Greek demi-god myths, in the Percy Jackson series.

That series has been followed by two other series;  The Kane Chronicles, based on Egyptian mythology, that consists of three titles,

Red Pyramid                                    Throne of Fire                            Serpent’s Shadow

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The novels were quickly followed by the graphic novel version of these titles.  Mclure has two of them with the third due to be published soon.

Red Pyramid:                                                               Throne of Fire:

The Graphic Novel                                                   The Graphic Novel

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Riordan has also done a series featuring those fiery gods of the North.  Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, based on Norse mythology, that currently stands at two titles, with the third that was just published in October.

Sword of Summer                         Hammer of Thor

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The successful conversion of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods novel to the small screen world of TV is a modern retelling of Norse mythology for adults.  The UA libraries doesn’t have that particular novel, but McLure Library has Anansi Boy’s, the sequel to American GodsAnansi Boys is based in the myths of West Africa and the West Indies.  So if you like Orlando Jones as Mr. Nancy in American Gods, check him out in a starring role in his own book: Anansi Boys.  It was listed for the Alex Award (Adult books suitable for Young Adults) in 2006 and is at McLure in the School Library Collection.

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McLure doesn’t have Neil Gaiman’s current best seller Norse Mythology, (that is at Gorgas library) but we have a beautifully illustrated version of both Egyptian and Norse Mythology done by well known YA and children’s author Donna Jo Napoli.  The amazing colored illustrations are accompanied by brief explanations of each of the major Egyptian and Norse Gods that make looking at these books a real pleasure for these long winter evenings.

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All of these books are in the McLure Library School Library collection located in the basement of McLure Library.  If you would like to read any of these books call 348 – 6346 or 348-1508 and we will put it on hold for you.  Or you can come to McLure and see what other fantastic reading we have on our shelves.

50th Anniversaries: Children’s Literature Classics

50th Anniversaries

Wrinkle in Time: By Madeleine L’Engle

Wolves of Willoughby Chase: By Joan Aiken

To Kill A Mockingbird: By Harper Lee

Blogpost by Benita Strnad, Curriculum Materials Librarian,  McLure Education Library


The book world celebrated the Golden Anniversaries of three very important works of Young Adult Literature in 2012.  In February the publishing firm of Farrar Straus & Giroux threw a big 50th birthday party for “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle.  This fall Doubleday celebrated the publication of “The Wolves of Willoughby Chase” by Joan Aiken.  Here in Alabama the 50th anniversary of the coming out of “To Kill a Mockingbird” passed without much fanfare.  All three of these books were landmark publications and brought fame, if not fortune, to their authors, and hours of pleasure to millions of readers over the years.  Each of them was iconic in their own way.  If you are looking for books to give to children and young adults in your lives in the next few weeks consider giving one of these three books. 


PZ7 .L5385 Wr 1962 Education School Library – Newbery

“A Wrinkle in Time” was a book that couldn’t find a publisher because it was so different.  L’Engle was studying, what was then, the revolutionary field of quantum physics while she was taking a ten week camping trip across the U. S. with her family in 1959.  She states that she saw landscapes that were totally alien to her and combined with the material she was reading she began to imagine a who new world.  The genre of science fiction was only in its infancy when L’Engle completed the book and started sending it to publishers.  They weren’t sure how this genre was going to be accepted by the public and so were leery of the manuscript when it arrived on their desks for several reasons.  It featured a female protagonist in an area that in the early 60’s was considered a male profession, it dealt with sophisticated scientific concepts that weren’t yet widely known, it dealt with evil in a very real way, which was not part of children’s literature, making it difficult for publishers to decide if it was a book for children or adults.   As a result, the book was rejected by 26 publishers before Farrar Straus & Giroux accepted it.  The year it was published it was awarded the Newbery award from the American Library Association, an edgy and somewhat radical departure from more mainstream titles that had won past awards.  The novel has stood the test of time and is still widely read and has been in continuous print since its publication.  Eventually, L’Engle published four other books about the Murry family that are known as the Time Quintet.


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“Wolves of Willoughby Chase” was first published in Great Britian in 1963 and subsequently in the U. S.  The author, Joan Aiken, was the daughter of famed American poet Conrad Aiken, and was born and raised in Great Britain.  Like “Wrinkle in Time” this was book that had a hard time finding a publisher.  It defies genre categorization and sometimes is classed as supernatural fiction, alternative fiction, and fantasy fiction.  When it was published it was one of the first works for children that featured alternative history and geography.  Ultimately the book was the first in a series of 12 books that have come to be known as the “Wolves Chronicles.”  These books vary in length from 150 pages to 250 pages and fit into that nitch of readers in grades 4 through 6 or 7, who are past introductory chapter books and yet might not want to read a novel of greater length than 250 pages.  With time the “Wolves of Willoughby Chase” sort of faded from the view of teachers, parents, librarians, and readers, but with the renewed interest in fantasy and series books for children the book is back in the limelight.


PS 3562 .E353 T6 Hoole Special Collections and Gorgas

2012 is the Fiftieth anniversary of the film version of the book.  The movie is readily available in Netflix if you want to watch the film, but it might be a good idea to revisit the novel during this anniversary year.   Alabamians are mostly aware of Harper Lee’s masterpiece of a civil rights novel “To Kill a Mockingbird” as it has certainly become one of the pillars of American literature and its place as a classic is assured.  The myth and legend of the book has only been enhanced by the reclusive nature of the author and the fact that no other book by her has ever been published leaving her with a perfect record in the bestseller category.  Lee was well connected in the New York publishing literati of the era and so unlike the previous mentioned titles, she did not have much of a problem finding a publisher for her book.  After it was published it was well received by the critics and became an immediate bestseller.  It also won the Pulitzer Prize in the same year.  Unlike the other two titles this one was not a children’s novel.  It was published, and remains, an adult novel.  However, it is now required reading in many high schools and so has found a place in young adult literature.


All three of these novels, once published, were successful titles, winning an immediate following and with the passing of time each of these titles has become an accepted classic in children’s and young adult literature.  With the cooling temperatures outside, it is a good time to read, or in some cases reread, these 50th Anniversary titles.  All of them can be found in McLure Library and in Gorgas Library.  There are also copies at the Tuscaloosa Public Library.  They can be purchased at either Books-A-Million or Barnes & Noble.  (They would make great stocking stuffers!)