February 25, 2013

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 8:48 pm by suebe2

A Tale Dark and Grimm
by Adam Gidwitz
Dutton Children’s Books
AR 4.6

Tell the kids to leave the room.

That may not be it word for word but that’s the warning that Adam Gidwitz gives his readers.  These are the Grimm fairy tales that have been sanitized for common consumption.  These are edgy and bloody and mean.

Hansel and Gretel may be little kids but this book is meant for readers who are just a bit older — 10 and up would be my estimate.

Unlike the stand alone tales we are used to, these tales are woven together by the adventures of two remarkable children, Hansel and Gretel.  Hansel and Gretel encounter not only the old woman who tries to gobble them up, but also parents who turned their children into birds, and an enchanted wood.  It is in this wood that they go their separate ways for a time.  Gretel must defeat a warlock who turns the souls of girls into doves and Hansel outwits the devil himself.

I know this is sketchy but there’s really no way to describe the stories without giving too much away.  Gidwitz version is true to the originals in that they are edgy.  People make awful, greedy decisions and sometimes horrible things must be done to stop a greater evil.  They’re a lot like real life that way.

But it isn’t all selfishness and blood and gore.

Hansel and Gretel do love each other and they learn a lot about humanity in the course of their tales.  Like most life lessons, some of what they learn is good and some is much less good though no less essential.  There is also a lot to laugh about but the humor isn’t always what your mother, or at least my mother, would have considered appropriate.

But isn’t that a lot like life.

And I think that is what young readers will like most about this book — the fact that Gidwitz has created a story for them that is dark and bloody and real even if people can turn into animals, spells chain people to one place and a piece of string can mend any broken thing.

 

–SueBE

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