Sunday, December 26, 2010

Book Review - A Tale Dark and Grimm

Author: Adam Gidwitz
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Reading Level: Ages 9 to 12
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Description from GoodReads:
Brooklyn schoolteacher Adam Gidwitz offers imaginative new slants on children's classics in this new collection inspired by nine Grimm Brothers fairy tales. Never before have Hansel and Gretel had an adventure like this!

If anyone is looking for a way to squeeze in another Debut Author book before the end of the year, may I suggest the dark and gruesome A TALE DARK AND GRIMM by Adam Gidwitz? This book is oh so good. Gidwitz channels the original Brothers Grimm in this variation of Hansel and Gretel. This is no Disney version of a Grimm story. In this version, Gidwitz maintains the original feel but does so with a modern day voice and a unique layering of Grimm tales into one story.

As the narrator of A TALE DARK AND GRIMM cautions "if there are little kids...why don't you go hire a babysitter.." Gidwitz's A TALE DARK AND GRIMM will appeal to children who love Lemony Snickets or Pseudonymous Bosch thrown in with a generous dose of R.L. Stine. I have to admit that the narration was part of why I loved this book so much. The interaction between the narrator and the reader seems to assist the reader in processing the story and in understanding some of the more intense sections of the book. With that said, I do realize that some children may not handle scary stories well or do best when reading them aloud with an adult. Rather than limit who should read this, I would encourage parents to read it with their child if there are concerns. I would also remind parents that children love scary stories. And they love stories with happy endings and where children turn out to be the heroes.

If you are in doubt about this book, I would encourage you to check out Gidwitz's Frequently Asked Questions (click here). He does a much better job of explaining the reason and purpose for the blood and gore. Understanding that for some children, it might be better if they wait some before attempting to read this book.

As I read through the book, I appreciated Gidwitz's ability to create a richly developed story and means of holding the attention of readers through the various journeys that Hansel & Gretel find themselves on. Characters seemed well fleshed out and the pacing of the story never seemed to bog down. This was particularly impressive in light of the fact that Gidwitz is a new author but one who obviously has a strong ability to tell a story.

If you are interested in checking out a short story by Gidwitz, author Pseudonymous Bosch had him as a Guest Ghost over on his blog. Here is the link to his version of Cinderella, click here.


  1. Fantastic review! I'm really looking forward to reading this book, especially after talking to you about and Kiersten White's praise for it.

  2. I've heard quite a bit about this book and have been dying to get my hands on it! Unfortunately it didn't make it through the library's final round of budget cuts, so it's on the list for next year.

    You should take a look at the short story book "The Brothers Grimm and Sisters Weird". The wanted posters were funny, I loved this version of Rumplestiltskin, and it the creepiest version of Hansel and Gretel ever!


I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves. ~ Anna Quindlen

Good children's literature appeals not only to
the child in the adult, but to the adult in the child.
~ Anonymous ~