Wednesday, April 06, 2011

A Tale Dark and Grimm

A Tale Dark and Grimm Adam Gidwitz

Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome.

I know, I know. You don't believe me. I don't blame you. A little while ago, I wouldn't have believed it myself. Little girls in red caps skipping around the forest? Awesome? I don't think so.

But then I started to read them. The real, Grimm ones. Very little girls in red caps in those.

Well, there's one. But she gets eaten.

So begins Gidwitz's tale. He retells some of Grimm's more obscure fairy tales but manages to string them together in one over-arching coherent narrative. The main way he does this is by casting the same kids in each tale-- Hansel and Gretel and what happens after they escape from the witch.

Throughout, the narrator frequently breaks in with warnings to send little kids out of the room and help hints on German pronunciation or other commentary on the story.

It works really, really well as a package. Gidwitz (obviously) keeps in all the blood and gore* and the humor of the narrative interjections really help balance it out so it's not completely bleak and violent.

I really liked how the stories combined to make one story. It wasn't nearly as episodic as it sounds (or could have been). Hand this one to your older fans of fairy tales or those who think that fairy tales are all about pink, glittery princesses. If nothing else, there is a bloody sword on the cover! That should garner a few fairy tale converts.

*Of course, what doesn't get discussed is that although the original Grimm versions are much more dark and violent than the ones we tend to tell children today, the Grimms did a fair amount of sanitizing of the stories as they collected them!

Book Provided by... my local library

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