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A Tale Dark and Grimm Paperback – August 18, 2011
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"Children of Blood and Bone"
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From School Library Journal
Gr 3 Up–Starred Review. 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, NYα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
As if Hansel and Gretel didn’t already have it tough in their original fairy tale, Gidwitz retrofits a handful of other obscure Grimm stories and casts the siblings as heroes. Connecting the dots, he crafts a narrative that has the twins beheaded (and reheaded, thankfully), dismembered, hunted, killed, brought back to life, sent to hell, and a number of other terrible fates en route to their happily ever after. Some adults will blanch at the way Gidwitz merrily embraces the gruesomeness prevalent in the original tales, but kids won’t mind a bit, and they’ll get some laughs out of the way he intrudes on the narrative (“This is when things start to get, well . . . awesome. But in a horrible, bloody kind of way”). The author also snarkily comments on the themes, sometimes a bit too heavy-handedly. The question many readers might have about the Grimms’ tales is perfectly pondered by the long-suffering twins: “Are there no good grown-ups anymore?” Not in these forests, kiddos. Grades 4-7. --Ian Chipman --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.
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If you haven't already gathered by its title, A Tale Dark & Grimm is a retelling of an original Grimm story, Hansel and Gretel--only this version is much darker than the one you're used to. There is blood. There is violence. There is gore. There are no happy endings--yet. We watch Hansel and Gretel as they travel through several other well-known Grimm fables and we learn the sinister truth. Ten short stories make up this harrowing adventure and they feature a cannibalistic old woman, a bloodthirsty boy-beast, the Devil's trickery and an alarmingly menacing dragon. As I said before, these aren't your usual fairy tales. These are fairy tales for the twenty-first century. Gidwitz makes fairy tales so much more awesome!
What really drew my attention were the quirky narrations throughout the course of the book. Our narrator uses cheeky, fantastical, well-placed asides to highlight the pressing dangers or grim (pun totally intended) nature in each of these stories, without being patronizing to the reader. Gidwitz doesn't take these stories lightly and he definitely makes the protagonists suffer, but that's what's so brilliant about this book. He teaches valuable lessons and the reason our heroes prevail is because of that very suffering. He shows us the magic and power created for and by children and he stays honest to that through to the very end.
Food for Thought: A Tale Dark & Grimm is just the sort of story that parents and youngsters can enjoy reading together. This book enforces a strong moral code and does it in a way that is both grisly and exciting. I loved every disturbing, thrilling, funny moment and would wholeheartedly recommend it to those who enjoy their fairy tales with a side of sadism.
Rating: 4/5 stars
Adam Gidwitz is a very twisted man. I mean that in the very best possible way. Because there is no denying that it takes someone whose imagination is a little curvier than normal to come up with retelling the tales of the Brothers Grimm - in all their original, grisly splendor - in a way that modern readers will enjoy. And Adam Gidwitz's imagination has curls like a corkscrew.
A Tale Dark and Grimm is the story of Hansel and Gretel. Not just the bit that everyone knows, with the breadcrumbs and the witch and the oven and so forth. No, this is the full and authentic story of the intrepid twins, from their birth in a royal castle to their long wanderings and their eventual return home. Along the way, Hansel and Gretel manage to weave their way through several of the more obscure (and gruesome) tales ever collected by the Grimms.
It's almost inconceivable that A Tale Dark and Grimm is Adam Gidwitz's first novel. The prose is sharp and sly and each successive chapter lures the reader into the state of 'just a few pages more.' The skeletal framework Mr. Gidwitz has lifted from various Grimm's fairy tales is fleshed out by the author's own imaginative ideas and seamlessly interwoven with his unique observations on the Hansel and Gretel story. The intermittent interjection of the storyteller's voice, offering warnings and musings and explanations, adds just the right touch to this stellar new fantasy.