The lists have all been made but we still find, or hear about, more titles for the Read Harder Challenge. I’ve added a few to the list for task #2: a retelling of a classic of the canon, fairy tale or myth by an author of color, and I would like to highlight a few titles here.
“Where the Mountain Meets the Moon” by Grace Lin
This is roughly a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz” but, instead of a scarecrow, you have a dragon who can’t fly. And instead of a wizard, you have the Old Man of the Moon. But it’s not fair to say that it is a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz” because the author deftly weaves so much Chinese folklore into the story. I will admit that this was my choice for this task and, as a bonus, this book also satisfies Task #20: a middle grade book that doesn’t take place in the U.S. or the UK.
“Moon of the Crusted Snow“ by Waubgeshig Rice
Rice uses the mythological wendigo, a man-eating creature or evil spirit from the folklore of the First Nations, to build suspense and create a villain for post-apocalyptic tale. The story is told from an Anishanaabe perspective (a group of First Nations people in Canada and northeastern United States). “Moon of the Crusted Snow” is also a parable of the dangers of being separated from the land. On an isolated reservation in the far-north, things start to go wrong: cell phones, computers and media services are gone. Soon it’s also power and food. “Western infrastructure” is simply gone. The community has to learn to rely on each other, especially when evil pays a visit. This book would also satisfy Task #24: a book in any genre by a Native, First Nations, or Indigenous author.
“The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You“ by Lily Anderson
Anderson retells “Much Ado About Nothing” with a high school (The Messina School for the Gifted) as the setting. Trixie and Ben have been at odds since first grade but now that their respective best friends are dating, they have to try to get along. There’s a lot of geek culture in this book as well as references to Shakespeare. You can find this one in our teen section.
“Prince of Cats“ by Ronald Wimberly
How about a graphic retelling of “Romeo and Juliet” from the perspective of Tybalt, set in a Blade Runner version of Brooklyn? The hip-hop “Prince of Cats” is Tybalt, leading his crew of Capulets against the rival Montagues. There are also a lot of fun 1980’s references, allusions to Greek myths and Japanese folklore, and (of course) Shakespeare himself.
“Out of Darkness“ by Ashley Hope Pérez
Shakespeare has a lot of staying power and I probably should have picked just one retelling of “Romeo and Juliet” to highlight but I found this one just as intriguing. This retelling is set in early twentieth-century Texas where invisible lines are enforced for Naomi, who is Mexican, and Wash, who is Black. In spite of their feelings for each other, they have to deal with racism and segregation. This story is also loosely based on the actual 1937 New London, Texas school explosion. On March 18, a natural gas leak caused an explosion that killed 295 teachers and students, making this book also count for Task #7: a historical novel not set in WWII. This one is also in our teen section.