Perhaps, like me, you've noticed that, more than a year after its release, the obsession with Disney's movie Frozen doesn't seem to be peaking out yet. I have to admit I loved the film myself. I have two sisters who live very far from me and whom I love and miss more than words can express. The themes of sisterly sacrifice, bravery, and being true to oneself touched me deeply. I think it's the best Disney movie I've seen since Finding Nemo.
Your kids may have loved Frozen for different reasons, like the transformed icy world, Elsa's magic, but uncontrollable, powers, or the adventure that Anna embarked upon to bring her sister back home. Many quality chapter books touch on these same themes. Here are 10 chapter books that I highly recommend for kids ages roughly eight to 12 who can't get enough of Frozen.
West of the Moon by Margi Preus
I'm expecting this novel to make a strong showing in next week's award announcement (think Caldecott, Newbery, American Library Association Notable Children's Books and more) for the best children's literature of 2014. This novel is based on the Scandinavian folktale, "East of the Sun and West of the Moon." It stars 13-year old Astrid, who was separated from her sister by their aunt and uncle and sold to a goat herder as an unpaid laborer. Astrid survives a bleak existence by remembering the fairy tales her mother told her before her death. Astrid steals the goat herder's money, takes a fellow "captive" with her, grabs her sister from the aunt and uncle, and journeys to escape 19th century Norway to the promised land of America. A beautiful story in which elements of history and fantasy are woven together in fairy-tale fashion. Margi Preus is an author kids don't want to miss, (my daughter loved one of her previous novels) and this may be her best chapter book yet.
Winterfrost by Michelle Houts
According to Danish tradition, you never ignore or neglect a nisse, a magical creature similar to an elf or a troll. Unfortunately, one Christmas 12 year-old Bettina forgets to leave one a treat and mischief ensues. It turns out the nisse has stolen Bettina's baby sister and she must go on a wintry adventure to return her to the family. Lots of magic, some tiny, cute creatures, and a dose of courage all make for a fun chapter book.
The Two Princesses of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
I'm sure you've heard of Ella Enchanted, but did you know that Gail Carson Levine wrote a bunch of other very fine middle grade fantasies starring strong princesses? Normally-reticent Princess Addie transforms into a brave adventurer when she decides she must save her overprotective older sister from the Gray Death. Get ready for dragons, ghosts, gryphons, fairies, and more as Addie embarks on a quest to rescue a beloved sibling.
East by Edith Pattou
An earlier (2003) novel based on the fairy tale "East of Sun and West of the Moon," East features a young girl on an epic journey. It received starred reviews from two major children's literature journals. East, the last child of a large Norwegian family, ventures on an icy quest when a bear shows up at her door to claim her birthright. Mythology and fantasy intertwine in this chapter book told in multiple voices, which would be best appreciated by readers around ages ten and up.
Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver
When Liesl's father dies, her greedy stepmother locks her in the attic, but Po, a spirit who hails from the Other Side, helps her to escape. They embark upon a journey to bury Liesl's fathers ashes alongside her mother's. Along the way, a missing alchemist's spell, a mix-up, and a chance encounter fill out a tale of friendship, healing, and adventure. I have yet to meet a fantasy chapter book reader who didn't rave about this book, which is a mix of fairy tale and farce.
Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby
Icefall won a ton of awards the year it was released, including the prestigious 2012 Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery novel. A Viking king sends his three children to ride out a war in a supposedly impenetrable fjord, with warriors to guard them. All too soon, it becomes obvious that a traitor exists among them. The siblings, two sisters and a brother, must fight for their very survival in this epic tale of myth, mystery, and adventure.
Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
Breadcrumbs, which garnered four starred reviews and was named a best book of 2011 by four different publications, is a clever retelling of the Snow Queen. Hazel is a 10 year old Asian adoptee who's parents are divorcing. She's bullied and her best friend Jack seems to be drifting away. When he's hit in the eye with a magic shard of glass and follows the Snow Queen into the woods, Hazel embarks upon a fantasy-laden journey to save him. Although Breadcrumbs is a fantasy, it heavily relies on themes of realistic fiction. That means kids not only get to engage in a mystical adventure, they also get to see the protagonist learn that her inner strength means more than any friendship ever could.
The Bravest Princess by E. D. Baker
E. D. Baker is a consistently popular author with fourth and fifth grade students because of her knack for writing humorous fantasy/fairy tales with strong girls at their center. Both of my girls, and many, many kids at the school library, love her books. The Bravest Princess is the third book in Baker's series that features Annie, Sleeping Beauty's little sister. In this adventure, Annie is sent to help Snow White find a husband, as her father insists she be married. Of course, it turns out that some spells are afoot, and Annie embarks on a fantasy adventure to set things right. Readers will recognize characters who appear from well-known fairy tales and enjoy the comical tone.
May B. by Caroline Starr Rose
Don't miss out on this amazing winter survival tale, with a girl at its center, which I reviewed here.
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