Tag Archives: folklore

The Grimm Conclusion

grimmby Adam Gidwitz

I waited for a while to read this one.  Was somewhat apprehensive.  When one becomes friendly and very fond of an author, one sometimes also becomes worried.  What if… What if the book isn’t as good as you’d hoped?  As good as you  believe that particular author could have made it?  What it…

So, I didn’t read the galley.  I did attend an overwhelmingly successful event at Book Court in Brooklyn with Adam entertaining a host of young readers and their parents.  And then, finally, after I started seeing my students toting around this third volume and hearing that they really really enjoyed it (one of them read it more than twice in the week of its publication) I braced myself and delved into it!

What a treat!  I couldn’t put the book down.  Adam not only featured some of MY favorite Grimm tales, he even used one of my favorite STORY TIME staple (Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock!)  And not only Adam continues with the intrusive and flippant (but often kind and comforting) storyteller/narrator, he brings this narrator INTO the story (or, rather, brings the protagonists OUT of the story and into current day Brooklyn.)  I was worried when I knew that there is a metafiction element of the tale that it would have seemed trite or forced — but Adam did it in a natural and fluid way that really works.  The story as a whole seems a bit darker than the first two, but it is to my liking.  And as in so many stories for children (and adults) the power of storytelling is celebrated at the end!

Same as in the first two books, there are definitely some very sticky moral dilemmas that the two kids have to face and conquer.  I am happy to report that the messages do not get in the way of the enjoyment of the tales. And I suspect that these important “lessons” are being absorbed and are strengthening child readers everywhere as I type!

Finally, the new “Kingdom of Children” that the narrator refers to in the end of this book is an apt metaphor for the realm of imagination, for stories and books, and especially for the Grimm trilogy, where children venture in to “run, to play… to tell their tales and face their fears and let whatever is inside out.”

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Grimm Legacy

grimmlegacyby Polly Shulman

For a librarian, someone who has worked for the New York Public Library system and toured the underground (deeply underground) stacks of books and objects, and a huge fan of fairytale reinventions, this book is a perfect match.  I thoroughly enjoyed the capers and the many magical aspects of the storyline.  This is another one that I can easily recommend to readers who want fantasy stories firmly inserted into their real world experiences.  The clean high school romances, the school basketball games, and the use of electronic devices will speak to contemporary twin readers.  The threads of the mystery are intriguing the first 2/3 of the story.  The last 1/3 becomes a little less skillfully laid out: once all the red herrings are eliminated and the true villain is identified, the story loses a little bit of momentum.  But thanks to the few super fun elements (Elizabeth’s losing her sense of direction, the bottomless box, and the whole idea of all those people turned into figurines for centuries, for example,) I was not bored.  It is, however, a little of a let down to see that the author could not seem to come up with a better or really clever way to get rid of the villain and had to employ a deus ex machina in the form of one of the minor characters and a realm that was never introduced previously in the story.  Nonetheless, I am still excited about the companion book that is to be released this June, The Wells Bequest. I can’t wait to go back to this fantastic library and see what the imaginative mind of Polly Shulman has concocted for the readers.

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Tales from Brothers Grimm and Sisters Weird

talesfrombrothersgrimmby Vivian Vande Velde

The short fractured fairy tales in this collection are lightly inventive, and I found the retelling of Hansel and Gratel truly successful: Vande Velde turns the traditionally sympathetic siblings into cold-blooded, calculating murderers.  The few fairy tale poems seem to be merely fillers.

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Passion and Poison: Tales of Shape-shifters, Ghosts, and Spirited Women

Author: De Negro, Janice
Reading Level: 4th – 6th grade

Pages: 64
Publisher: Marshal Cavendish
Edition: Hardcover

I really enjoyed the tone of these narratives but found the seven mostly familiar (or with familiar motifs) tales in this slim volume not scary or eerie enough. There exists always a promising build-up but the readers are left short of truly gruesome, horrific, or surprising endings. The cover design is quite effective, with raised blood-red title print, but the interior illustrations are uneven and less than accomplished in many cases. The very good cover art is done by Vincent Natale, but the illustration copyright is attributed to Marshall Cavendish, the publisher — and the quality of the illustrations definitely feel like work-for-hire jobs.

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Genies, Meanies, and Magic Rings

Author: Stephen Mitchell
Reading Level: 2nd – 4th

Publisher: Walker
Edition: Hardcover, 2007 (ARC)

The retelling is skillfully done — although I do not see how “new” and “fresh” these versions are from the older version. To gain insight, I must see some of other retellings. There are only three stories and two of them are so familiar so I wasn’t getting excited about them. The second, unfamiliar story, however, is definitely interesting and worth reading.

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