A Tale Dark and Grimm: And Very Funny Too


A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

I was very hesitant to start this book, because I love the original tales so very much.  I still have my faux-leather copy of the Grimm’s tales that I read when I was little.  In this debut novel, Hansel and Gretel serve as the uniting characters in a series of stories inspired by the Grimm tales.  Written with a narrator who interrupts, gleefully warns of upcoming bloodbaths, thrillingly cautions to get small children out of the room, and generally makes the book tantalizing, readers will find themselves unable to stop turning pages just to see what in the world the excitement is all about next.  And excitement there is, with stories that involve cutting off fingers, chopping off heads, battling dragons, and turning into a wolf creature.  Hansel and Gretel do a lot more than find a house made of candy here, though that story is part of this book too.  Get ready for a wild read that is sure to surprise and delight.

OK, so I tend to not like books with narrators who insert their opinions or foreshadow upcoming scenes.  It bugs me that the author had to resort to that rather than skillfully telling the story.  But here, that narrator actually adds a lot to the book.  The narrator tells readers that it’s OK to be thrilled with being frightened.   The narrator teases the reader with endings, merrily romping through the book and adding to the mayhem and fun.  This is a narrator who has become a character himself. 

Gidwitz has taken liberties with the stories.  While some bear close resemblance to a Grimm tale, others are very different.  Delightfully, without a book of Grimm at hand, the stories all work side-by-side, a testament to the skill of the author. 

Best of all, this is a book for older elementary children that needs to be read aloud.  It needs to be shared, laughed aloud at, gasped together at, and delighted in with someone else.  So grab a kid, cuddle up and get ready for a great wild read.  Appropriate for ages 8-12, or whenever you think a child is ready for such grisly and grand fare.

Reviewed from copy received from Dutton.