A Tale Dark & Grimm

A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz Intermediate, Middle School Dutton 251 pp. 11/10 978-0-525-42334-8 $16.99 g
RedReviewStarInstead of the oft-tried technique of expanding a single Grimms' fairy tale into a novel, Gidwitz takes several tales and weaves them together into one darkly humorous chapter book starring Hansel and Gretel. The brother and sister are two of the unluckiest children ever, as they fall into the clutches of a succession of terrible grown-ups, from their father who cuts off their heads to the baker woman who wants to eat them, and even the devil himself. In the bloodiest and most terrifying story, Gretel falls in love with a handsome young man who lures her to his home in the woods where he daily hacks young women to pieces for dinner. The author introduces the stories and interrupts them periodically in passages set off in bold type, speaking directly to the reader in a deliberately modern and informal tone: "I'm sorry. I wish I could have skipped this part. I really do. Gretel cutting off her own finger?" The commentary can occasionally feel grating, but the combination of powerful stories and grade-school humor will probably introduce Grimm fairy tales to modern children just as Percy Jackson has popularized Greek mythology. SUSAN DOVE LEMPKE
Gr 3-Up With disarming delicacy and unexpected good cheer, Gidwitz reweaves some of the most shocking and bloody stories that the Brothers Grimm collected into a novel that's almost addictively compelling. He gives fair warning that this is no prettified, animated version of the old stories. "Are there any small children in the room now?" he asks midway through the first tale, "If so, it would be best if we just...hurried them off to bed. Because this is where things start to get, well...awesome." Many of humanity's least attractive, primal emotions are on display: greed, jealousy, lust, and cowardice. But, mostly it's the unspeakable betrayal by bad parents and their children's journey to maturation and forgiveness that are at the heart of the book. Anyone who's ever questioned why Hansel and Gretel's father is so readily complicit in their probable deaths and why the brother and sister, nonetheless, return home after their harrowing travails will find satisfying explanations here. Gidwitz is terrifying and funny at the same time. His storytelling is so assured that it's hard to believe this is his debut novel. And his treatment of the Grimms' tales is a whole new thing. It's equally easy to imagine parents keeping their kids up late so they can read just one more chapter aloud, kids finishing it off under the covers with a flashlight, and parents sneaking into their kids' rooms to grab it off the nightstand and finish it themselves.-"Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY" Copyright 2010 Media Source Inc.
Gidwitz weaves several Grimms' tales into one darkly humorous book starring Hansel and Gretel. The author interrupts the main text periodically, speaking directly to readers (e.g., "I'm sorry. I wish I could have skipped this part. I really do”). The combination of powerful stories and grade-school humor may do for the popularity of Grimm fairy tales what the Percy Jackson books did for Greek mythology.

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