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This year on November 29, Louisa May Alcott would have turned 189—and yet, so long after she brought her irrepressible Little Women to life on the page, fans still can’t get enough of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. The 2019 film adaptation by Greta Gerwig went on to win an Oscar, proving that this tale of young women growing into themselves is one that truly stands the test of time. Although that doesn’t mean there is nothing to bring into the present day!
Not all new adaptations of the classic stick quite as close to the source material, with authors bringing Little Women up to date with the inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters and women of color, showing fans that the heart of the story isn’t limited by time, race, or orientation.
So Many Beginnings by Bethany C. Morrow
This YA adaptation is set in the same time period as the original (although not the exact same year), but follows a Black family, providing insight and perspective on their experiences in the American Civil War. The four little women themselves are very similar, and share the names of the original, but So Many Beginnings adds new depth to their experiences. This creates something new, without losing any of the heart and charm of the original.
Jo: A Graphic Novel by Kathleen Gros
While some young readers love the period setting of the original Little Women, others may find it daunting. They'll love this graphic novel reimagining of Jo’s story, with a modern day twist. Jo: A Graphic Novel sets the story in the present day, and focuses on Jo herself, as a teenage girl who starts a blog about her family, her dreams of being a writer, the new boy next door (Laurie), and her emerging realization that she has feelings for her female friend.
Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy by Rey Terciero
Another graphic novel take on the classic: this does attempt to fit the entirety of the Little Women story into a short book, but does a phenomenal job with it, and with bringing the story up to date. Set in New York, with a blended family at the core, Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy are as charming and endearing as ever, but are more focused on modern values (like feminism and inclusion) than the more traditional values of the original. And, just like in Jo: A Graphic Novel, Jo’s story includes queer representation, something that fans have long thought an appropriate take on the classic character.
More To The Story by Hena Kahn
A perfect retelling for middle-grade aged readers, More To The Story also focuses on "Jo," although here, she is renamed Jameela, with the March family transformed into a loving group of Muslim American sisters in the modern day. All the core elements and characters remain, but More To The Story makes this approachable for young readers who want to fall in love with these four sisters in their own time.
Little Witches by Leigh Dragoon
Leigh Dragoon creates an entirely new version of Little Women that is even more magical than the original… literally! Little Witches puts a fantasy spin on the story of the March sisters, keeping it in the Civil War era, but wondering how things would have changed were they secretly witches. Laurie and his grandfather become witch-finders, adding an extra layer of drama to the tale! This fun, fantastical take on the story is a perfect blend of magic and period drama.
What are your favorite Little Women retellings? Tweet @quirkbooks and let us know!