Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Tale Dark and Grimm

Gidwitz, Adam. 2010. A TALE DARK AND GRIMM. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0525423346 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-9]

Readers might just be surprised at how dark and gruesome fairy tales can be, but they are warned time and again by the narrator of Adam Gidwitz’s A Tale Dark and Grimm. (The narrator loves to interrupt!) The book tells the true story-- the complete story-- of Hansel and Gretel. It’s a story that begins with their grandparents and parents. Turns out that Hansel and Gretel had a very good reason for running away from their royal home. But in their search for a home where they can live with “normal” parents, they never expected to find so many dangers. Maybe just maybe there is no such thing as a perfect adult. Maybe what they need is a little love, forgiveness, and compassion.

Some of the stories may be familiar, but others are thoroughly original. Expect action, adventure, magic, danger, blood, and violence. Gidwitz’s retelling is clever; the way he weaves stories together is so compelling. In the words of the narrator, he has made fairy tales awesome again.

Read “Faithful Johannes,” “Hansel and Gretel,” and “The Seven Ravens.” What elements of these stories did Gidwitz retain in A TALE DARK AND GRIMM? How did he change these stories to tell his own story?

Read another fairy tale of your choosing. Try to put your own creative spin on the story through art, poem, or writing.

Other fairy tale retellings:
Funke, Cornelia. RECKLESS. ISBN 031605609X
Napoli, Donna Jo. THE MAGIC CIRCLE ISBN 0140374396
Vande Velde, Vivian. CLOAKED IN RED. ISBN 0761457933

By Becky Laney

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