Top Ten Retellings of Myths, Legends and Fairy Tales

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We all know the classic myths and legends - we've picked up bits and pieces of them, from a myriad of sources over the years. We think we know them like the back of our hand, but do we really? Here are the best retellings of historical legends, to refresh our memories and rekindle our love of the great and timeless tales, from many civilisations and cultures. Why not tell us about your favourites?


Review of

The Thousand Nights and One Night by David Walser

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Spare, elegant words and evocative illustrations combine to produce a sumptuous retelling of the traditional stories. If you're looking for a book to give to a child - any child - then you need search no further. There is, quite simply, no area in which this book is less than perfect. Full Review


Review of

Lugalbanda by Kathy Henderson and Jane Ray

4.5star.jpg For Sharing

Possibly the world's oldest story, rendered in accessible but poetic and enchanting style with beautiful illustrations drawing on both classical tradition and modern drama. Recommended both for reading aloud and as a discussion point for newly confident readers who enjoy myth and legend. Full Review


Review of

Dido by Adele Geras

4.5star.jpg Teens

A lovely retelling of the story of Dido and Aeneas from Virgil's Aeneid. Geras has an enviable skill in making her elegant prose and traditional storytelling appeal to contemporary readers. Bookbag loved this book. Full Review


Review of

The Sword in the Stone by T H White

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Full of the same kind of humorous anachronisms as A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court, The Sword In The Stone is a wonderful and moving book. It is perfect for children interested in myth and legend and for any children who love fantasy, adventure and humour. Which, it's probably fair to say, is most children. With a challenging vocabulary, it's suitable for 9s and up. Full Review


Review of

Beowulf by Michael Morpurgo

4.5star.jpg Teens

Told with drama and grandeur and illustrated with vigour and mysticism, this latest version of the Beowulf story for children will become a classic, more than worthy of its predecessors. Suitable for the littlest of little ones right up to teenagers, it would make a wonderful gift. Full Review


Review of

Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times by L Brittney

4star.jpg Confident Readers

A highly enjoyable retelling of Shakespeare's Othello, as seen by the eyes of a thirteen year old boy spy recruited by Sir Francis Walsingham. It's engaging, interesting and exciting, but it's also beautifully grounded. An ideal choice for late primary, early secondary children, especially for Year 5s when they're "doing" the Tudors. Recommended. Full Review


Review of

Nut Cracker by Jan Pienkowski and David Walser

4star.jpg Confident Readers

A sumptuous retelling of the Nutcracker story with exquisite art work. Some is a little delicate but the book will delight any young girl. Recommended. Full Review


Review of

Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve

4star.jpg Teens

Here Lies Arthur is a retelling of the famous King Arthur legends, through the eyes of Gwyna, a young servant girl who encounters Myrddin (Merlin) after her home is destroyed by Arthur and his men. Children and adults alike will find plenty to enjoy in this interesting and original take on the legends. Full Review


Review of

Hood by Stephen R Lawhead

4star.jpg Historical Fiction

An interesting and entertaining first instalment giving a revisionist twist to the Robin Hood legend. Well written, and full of familiar conventions and tropes, it will appeal to all fans of the genre if perhaps a little too drawn-out for the non-fan. Full Review


Review of

The Book of a Thousand Days by Shannon Hale

4star.jpg Confident Readers

A diary style allows the reader right into the heart of an old fairytale, in this story of mistaken identities, beautiful princesses, cruel khans and love, loss and heroism. Angela Carter for the little ones. Super. Full Review

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