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Far Far Away by [McNeal, Tom]
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Far Far Away Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 165 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 6 Up-McNeal spins a tale fluctuating from whimsy to macabre in such a beguiling voice that-like Hansel and Gretel-readers won't realize they're enmeshed in his dangerous seduction until it's too late. The book is narrated by the ghost of Jacob Grimm (yes, that one), unhappily caught in the Zwischenraum (a plane of existence between life and death). For now, he is the nearly constant companion of Jeremy Johnson Johnson, who can hear Grimm's voice when he presses a finger to his right temple. He's also heard the voices of his dying mother and grandfather. This ability has made him an object of derision for many in his little town, though-thrillingly-not to the electrifyingly vibrant Ginger Boultinghouse, who is more than happy to lure Jeremy into more trouble than he's ever encountered. Grimm tries to be the voice of reason-to keep Jeremy safe-but few things are as they initially seem in the town of Never Better and it's difficult to know the difference between hazard and opportunity. It's also hard to know the good folk from the bad and that's because so many of McNeal's characters are complex and have conflicted motivations. When is a bully not so bad? Where's the line between justifiable grief and parental neglect? Can an older man love a teenager in a way that's not creepy? How do stories nourish us? At what point do they stifle us? All these questions, and many more, are raised in this folklore-inflected, adventurous, romantic fantasy. Whether readers connect more deeply with the suspense, the magical elements, or the gloriously improbable love story, they will come away with a lingering taste of enchantment.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* So it begins: What follows is the strange and fateful tale of a boy, a girl, and a ghost. Ghostly Jacob Grimm, of the famous Brothers, narrates this tale of Jeremy and Ginger and their near-tragic encounter with town baker Sten Blix, whose long-held grudges figure in the disappearance of several village children. Unappreciated as a youngster, Blix has elevated revenge to a sweet art, and he holds Jeremy, Ginger, and an additional victim, Frank Bailey, in a hidden dungeon under the bakery, while Jacob desperately tries to tell parents and friends of the predicament. If he fails, the three may become grist in the baker’s next batch of Prince Cakes. Reminiscent of Hansel and Gretel and rife with allusions to the Brothers Grimm tales, this is a masterful story of outcasts, the power of faith, and the triumph of good over evil. McNeal’s deft touch extends to the characterizations, where the ritual speech of traditional tales (Listen, if you will) establishes Jacob’s phantasmagoric presence amid the modernist American West. There are moments of horror (as there were in the Brothers Grimm original tales), but they are accomplished through the power of suggestion. Details aplenty about Jacob and his famous sibling make this a fiction connector to both fairy tales and Grimm biographies, too. Grades 7-10. --Cindy Welch

Product Details

  • File Size: 3935 KB
  • Print Length: 386 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (June 11, 2013)
  • Publication Date: June 11, 2013
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #384,447 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Ah Fairy Tales....I love them for all their weirdness and beauty and timelessness and did I say weirdness. Yes, this one starts out very weird. I thought it was too literary for me to enjoy. The stuffy Jacob Grimm narrates and he waxes prosaic about his lost brother and his time in the world after his death trying to find his way to his brother. Yes, I thought it was just going to be a little too much for me. I was wrong. Very wrong. Jacob Grimm basically lives one of his own fairy tales as an almost silent observer.

The characters in this story are numerous but only a few stand out. I will limit who I describe to Jeremy Johnson Johnson and Jacob Grimm.

Jeremy is a bit nerdy because all he does is study. But when you have a ghost telling you "studies, studies" all the time and you know your only ticket out of town is college and a scholarship, then you know you should study. And he's weird because he once told someone he hears voices. But he does and we know he does because we can hear Jacob Grimm talking to him throughout the novel. But, unfortunately, Jeremy has a tendency to talk to Jacob out loud and that makes him look even weirder. And Jeremy lives with his father in the back of the Two Book Bookstore which, as you may have guessed, sells only two books, the first and second volumes of Jeremy's grandfather's life story. Business isn't good. And, as if you need more to make a boy look weird, Jeremy's father stays in his room all day watching t.v. since Jeremy's mother left him. Life has not been kind to Jeremy. But he's a good boy, studies hard, is kind to everyone, friendly, wary, industrious (he has a lawn service business) and he takes care of his father.

Jacob Grimm's Ghost- Jacob's Ghost somehow got stuck on Earth after he passed away.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a strange and unusual novel that is likely to be both loved and hated, depending on what a reader is looking for.

First, the positives. The book pulls readers in from the start with the eerie voice of the ghost of Jacob Grimm and his mysterious search for "the thing undone" in his mortal life: "I have been dead since the Saturday afternoon in September 1863 when I saw the elm tree in the garden dissolve into nothing." The ghost of Grimm has searched for a boy "who sleeps in an attic full of fairy tales" in order to protect him from the evil and tortured schemes of The Finder of Occasions. Jeremy Johnson Johnson is the boy, and his relationship with the ghost of Jacob Grimm is one of the strongest and most touching parts of the novel. The book is at its best when we hear the musings of the long-dead Jacob Grimm: the language and his unique perceptions are lovely and poignant.

I also enjoyed the plot twists that reveal the horrors of the evil waiting for Jeremy and his friends - the Finder of Occasions is a bone-chilling combination of a modern mass murderer and an ancient fairy tale villain. Additionally, the dark fairy tales of the Grimm brothers are woven throughout the story in a way that is wonderfully creepy.

And now the negatives: The supporting characters in the story, especially Jeremy's friend Ginger, are annoying and inconsistent in their speech and actions. Ginger is alternately whiney, devout, rebellious, sentimental, snide, loyal, and fickle. It's nearly impossible to get a sense of a real person, and she tosses off odd slang terms like "Zounds" and "fabulouso" so often that her speech begins to grate like nails on a chalkboard.
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Format: Hardcover
Think of this title! Yup, it's a clue to what this incredible book is all about, because it's a modern fairy tale - hey! It's not boring - it's a page turner! - starring a boy, a girl, and a ghost - this is not your common garden variety ghost but one of the Grimm brothers - the same guys who put fairy tales on the map.

The thing is, this ghost whispers in the kid's ear and he is just about the only person who can hear the ghost whisperer - old Ghost Grimm tries to help the boy who lives with his dad - an he pretty much stays in bed for most of the book.

But this tale is full of adventures - not just a ghost, a girl, and a boy - but a dwarf, sort of a dwarf, and a giant, kind of giant, and the usual fairy tale plotting - just who is the `witch' here?

This book's great fun - one that will keep you reading deep into the night!
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Format: Hardcover
A teenage boy shares an extraordinary relationship with a ghost and slowly develops a special friendship with a girl in his class. The two teens become one another's confidantes and partners-in-crime. When the bank threatens to evict the boy and his widower father for lack of payment, the girl and the boy try to figure out a way to save the house. What becomes a noble goal turns into a modern-day fairy tale in Tom McNeal's whimsical, charming Far Far Away aimed at middle-grade readers.

Jeremy Johnson Johnson and his father live in Never Better, a place representing typical American small-town life. Everyone knows everything about everyone, and everyone takes a keen interest in the business of others. So the fact that Jeremy can keep a big secret represents an amazing feat. No one knows that Jeremy can hear the voice of long-dead Jacob Grimm of the Brothers Grimm.

Jacob narrates the story in first person and slowly reveals how he traversed the world from Germany after his death looking for his brother's spirit. Jacob travels for decades asking other spirits about Wilhelm, and eventually he meets one that says he has heard of a special boy. A boy who believes in fairy tales and who lives in a small town--a village--that "can be seen only from the corner of the eye." A boy who can hear those who exist in the spirit world. But the Finder of Occasions also lives in this town and will eventually harm the boy if no one can stop him. Jacob decides to help this boy; maybe helping the boy will somehow lead him to other spirits that can lead him to Wilhelm.

He becomes Jeremy's friend and tutor but when Ginger Boultinghouse starts showing an interest in Jeremy, Jacob becomes skeptical. An innocent prank turns into big news, solidifying Jacob's suspicion.
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