Tell a Story, Save Your Life!
Storytelling is very important to librarians. In these five books, telling a story is a central theme. Like Sherazade from One Thousand and One Arabian Nights, who had to tell 1,001 stories to save her life, the main characters in these books have to tell a story to save their life…or the life of someone important to them. How would someone even be put into that situation? Well these books mostly involve being put into that situation with magic, which also makes these titles fantasy. But they’re a very specific kind of dangerous fantasy!
Our Five Books Featuring are five books related by topic–One Old, One New, One Popular with Kids, One Well-Reviewed, and One Favorite of library staff–but you’ll have to guess which is which! Each book has a short synopsis and link to the book in the catalog, so you can easily find and request it.
Read on, and find out what life is like when you have to talk fast, think fast, and create stories even faster!
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The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
Irish orphans Molly and Kip travel to England to work as servants in a crumbling manor house where nothing is quite what it seems to be. Despite her young age and the warnings of a local storyteller, Molly uses the power of her own words to secure work, but soon realizes that something is not right; soon the siblings are confronted by a mysterious stranger and secrets of the cursed house. Each member of the Windsor family struggles with personal demons, and a strange footprints appear at night. They discover that the Night Gardener haunts the estate, dooming its inhabitants with foul dreams while a magical tree grants wishes to entrap the recipients. Molly’s stories help drive the darkness away for a bit, but soon both Molly and Kip must face their own dark secrets to release the Gardener’s hold and end his evil enchantments.
Shadow Spinner Susan Fletcher
When Marjan joins the Sultan’s harem in ancient Persia, she doesn’t know she will be called on to save her queen’s life. Every night, Queen Shahrazad begins a story. And every morning, the Sultan lets her live another day — providing the story is interesting enough to capture his attention. After almost one thousand nights, Shahrazad is running out of tales. And that is how Marjan’s story begins. She is tasked to help Shahrazad find new stories — ones the Sultan has never heard before. To do that, the girl is forced to undertake a dangerous and forbidden mission: sneak from the harem and travel the city, pulling tales from strangers and bringing them back to Shahrazad. But as she searches the city, a wonderful thing happens. From a quiet spinner of tales, Marjan suddenly becomes the center of a more surprising story than she ever could have imagined.
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Meggie lives a quiet life alone with her father Mo, a bookbinder. But her father has a deep secret: he can “read” characters to life. One day a mysterious stranger arrives who seems linked to her father’s past. Who is this sinister character and what does he want? Suddenly, Meggie is smack in the middle of the kind of adventure she has only read about in books. Somehow, Meggie and Mo must learn to harness the magic that conjured this nightmare. Somehow they must change the course of the story that has changed their lives forever. Suddenly Meggie is involved in a breathless game of escape and intrigue as her father’s life is put in danger. Will she be able to save him in time?
The Book of Story Beginnings by Kristin Kladstrup
Oscar Martin was fourteen when he mysteriously disappeared from his Iowa farmhouse home in June 1914. His sister claimed Oscar had rowed out to sea – but how was that possible? There is no ocean in Iowa. When, nearly a century later, Lucy Martin and her parents move from their city apartment to that same farmhouse in Iowa, it is not long before Lucy discovers the strange and dangerous BOOK OF STORY BEGININGS. When the stories start coming to life, Oscar reappears. Realizing that by beginning a new story in the enchanted book she has placed her father in deadly peril, Lucy enlists Oscar’s help to take her into that otherworld where their stories have come to life not in dreams but as cold, hard reality. Can these two distant relatives use the stories to save Lucy’s father?
Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis
Farhad doesn’t want to be a hero, but he doesn’t want to be a worm either. When the young thief is caught stealing an amulet that belongs to a god, he is given the seemingly impossible task of rescuing a princess from a demon king. He reluctantly begins a journey across India to the demon’s desert stronghold, and is joined on his quest by a sacred—and often sarcastic—white tiger named Nitish. The companions battle floods and fire, soldiers and scoundrels, yet it is their unlikely friendship that is the true key to rescuing the princess, if they can reach her in time.
Meanwhile, in the far-off desert, a reluctant young bride spins a tale of rescue to a kindly servant boy as she awaits certain death at the hands of her new husband. She dreams of a hero who will arrive just at the right time. Will these tales come together? And who is the real storyteller?
Nightbooks by J. A. White
Alex has loved scary stories his whole life, but he never imagined he’d be trapped in one! But when he sneaks out in the middle of the night, he is trapped by the witch Natacha in her magical apartment. Only Natacha holds the keys that will get Alex and his fellow prisoner, Yasmin, out of the apartment and back to their world. Natacha will never give up the keys, but her one weakness is stories. Now Alex’s original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping Natacha happy, but soon he’ll run out of pages to read from and be trapped forever. He’s loved scary stories his whole life, and he knows most don’t have a happily ever after. Now that Alex is trapped in a true terrifying tale, he’s desperate for a different ending–and a way out of this twisted place.
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So there you have it. Are you inspired to go out and write or tell a story now? Or at the very least, to rush to the library and check out one of these featured titles? 🙂
Here are a few other books featuring Storytelling…but not danger. At least, not danger in exactly the same way…
Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M.M. Blume
The Stone Girl’s Story by Sarah Beth Durst
Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar
Catching a Storyfish by Janice N. Harrington
When the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin
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If you would like help finding these or any other book in the library, please ask for help at the Youth Services Desk. We love to help you find the perfect book!