Book: A Tale Dark and Grimm
Author: Adam Gidwitz
Source: Local Library
You've heard 'em all. You've seen the movies. You probably have the Halloween costumes. But do you really know the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm? Really? Are you sure?
Hansel and Gretel were originally a happy little prince and princess, basking in their parents' love. But then their father cut their heads off. They get better, but decide to risk the dark and scary world instead of staying at home.
On the outside, Hansel and Gretel encounter one dark and gory situation after another. As they survive each one by the skin of their teeth, as they're separated and reunited, as they risk death and in one case go to Hell (just for awhile), they become stronger and more capable. But will they ever be able to face the one thing that scares them the most: going home?
In this sometimes funny, sometimes sad, sometimes scary, often gruesome, and always marvellously entertaining book, Gidwitz has stitched together some of the Brothers Grimm's most bloody tales. Having read a few of the originals myself, about the only thing he really changed was to make Hansel and/or Gretel the main characters. I heard a lot of scuttlebutt comparing this to Lemony Snicket, though I have to say it was mostly the authorial asides. Snicket is all about the looming danger that's escaped juuuuust in time, but Gidwitz actually puts his characters through it.
I'd like to hear if teachers have used this as a readaloud, because I think the structure would work for that, and the multiple ending trope that Gidwitz plays with is an interesting springboard for asking kids to think about story and narrative. I think kids will eat up this fast, gruesome ride, and come out of it with a new desire for the fairy tales that they've always encountered in their sanitized versions before.