The first one is one that was new to me. It's one of the Sunshine State Young Reader nominees for grades 3-5 for next year, but I already ordered the books (thanks Reading Warehouse!) and so far, my favorite one is called "A Hero's Guide to Saving your Kingdom" by Christopher Healy. It starts off explaining that the real problem with some of the fairy tales is that what we really remember is written by bards and really, what do they know? All the princes are named Charming and are they really charming? The story follows four of the princes, each of whom has some pretty big issues to deal with (like Frederic, for instance, who has been so pampered that his idea of adventure is having a picnic). Separately, they struggle, but together they are magnificent, in the most hilarious manner possible. DO NOT miss this one.
Here is an interview with the author, Christopher Healy.
One of my old favorites is a picture book called "Cinder Edna" by Ellen Jackson. It's a great story for compare and contrast because it tells about Cinderella, who sits weeping in the cinders because she works so hard AND her neighbor, Cinder Edna who cleans bird cages to earn extra money and cuts the grass to keep warm and knows how to make 27 kinds of tuna fish casserole. This is a great one for modeling how the fairy tales are loaded with values and cultural markers or for comparing real and fantasy. It's also a ton of fun to read.
Another one of my old favorites is called "Once Upon A Cool Motorcycle Dude" by Kevin O'Malley. This is a fairy tale told by two kids who couldn't agree on which fairy tale was their favorite. It starts off the with girl telling the story about Princess Tenderheart and her 8 ponies (her favorite was named Buttercup). When a giant comes and starts stealing the horses, the princess sits and cries and the boy takes over telling the story and he takes it into a really different direction. What's really awesome about this book is that the art work reflects who's telling the story. When the girl is telling the story, it's all pastels and soft pretty drawings and when the boy is telling the story, it's almost like a graphic novel. This is a perennial favorite in my library and I'm pretty sure I'm going to need to order at least one more copy for next year because it's been read until the covers are falling off it.
The last one is a chapter book that I read last summer. Someone had recommended it as a good book for girls and it is. Violet is a princess in a kingdom where the people are for the most part kind and loving. They are big storytellers and they often tell stories about princesses and dragons that everyone enjoys. In the stories, the princesses are always beautiful and Violet is not. In fact, she's so not pretty that she starts to question if she really is a princess because princesses are ALWAYS beautiful. In the questioning, she makes some bad choices, which puts her family and her kingdom in danger. It has a great message of love and kindness as well as knowing who you really are based on your character not your appearance. Loved this one.