September 11, 2014

In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 1:13 am by suebe2

In a Glass Grimmly
by Adam Gidwitz
Dutton Children’s Books

How do you bring together Jack and Jill, The Princess and the Frog, Jack and the Beanstalk, and much, much more?  You turn author Adam Gidwitz loose in fairy-tale land.

Gidwitz pulls together multiple Jack stories (Jack and Jill, the Beanstalk and the Giant Killer) and gives them a twist.  Jack and Jill are cousins with uniquely aweful lives.  Uniquely aweful in fairy tales.  Their problems are all too common today.  Jack has to deal with a pack of bullies while Jill’s mother is so mirror obsessed that a traveling merchant manages to clothe Jill in glorious silk that only the discerning eye can see.

Yep.

Jill marches out of the castle starkers.

The pair end up adventuring together on a quest for a magic mirror that is worth more than any other treasure in the world.  The price if they don’t find it?  Their lives.

Just to keep things lively, they are accompanied on their adventures by a talking frog.  Yep.  The talking frog.  Or Frog as they call him.  He may not be the bravest amphibian in the world and their adventures would be much less amazing if they listened to his MANY warnings but he definitely adds a worthwhile comic note.

In the end, the glass doesn’t work quite the way everyone expects but Jack and Jill manage to come out of it all with a new understanding of the world and their place in it.  They may not have what they thought they wanted at the beginning, but they have a self-awareness that is what they needed all along.

For those of you who haven’t read A Tale Dark and Grimm, Gidwitz has a barbed humor and writes in a chatty sarcastic style that may remind you of A Tale of Unfortunate Events.  Don’t expect strict adherence to the original tales.  Gidwitz plays free and loose with everything he pulls into this story but does so in a way that weaves it into a funny, slightly disgusting whole.

Although I read this book, I suspect it would make an excellent audio book for a family car trip as long as everyone has a tolerance for off beat often disgusting humor.  Yes, there’s guts and gore and barf . . .but it’s funny.  I promise.

–SueBE

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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