Monday, August 12, 2013

Hope you enjoy this blog from last year that took on the Grimm fairy tales for kids.  These books are extremely entertaining, and represent some talented writing that brings so much to the original tales.

As Einstein said "If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales.  If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."  While I think the quote speaks primarily to the power of imagination, the Grimm fairytales certainly stretch that imagination.  The stories were collected by the Grimm brothers in the early 1800's and they represented life at that time, sometimes cruel and often difficult.  However, in trying to preserve German folklore, the brothers stumbled upon tales that entranced young readers and defined central themes in literature.

Editors began fixing these tales to make them more palatable, softer and sweeter, but still they never managed to completely take the edge off and they remain, as a result, intriguing stories that are revisited time and time again. 

This week I have selected books based on the Grimm brothers' collection.  Some stay true to the stories' origins, some provide an intriguing backstory to the characters and some bring humor and levity to the tales, but all embrace the rich history and storytelling recorded by these famous brothers.

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Title:          A Tale Dark & Grimm
Author:     Adam Gidwitz
Target:      Grades 4-7

Series:        No
What this book is about:
This book is the story of Hansel and Gretel, pre-birth (their parents meeting and marriage) through their childhood. The story is told in the fashion of a true Grimm fairy tale, violent and bloody - really.  A faithful servant turned to stone, a father who cuts his children’s heads off, a baker who is really a cannibal, and a boy who morphs into a beast, are just a few of the stories in this book.
Why I love this book:
No, I am not crazy, nor blood hungry, nor a lover of the gruesome.  In fact I am fairly squeamish!  What makes this story an absolute pleasure, and downright funny, is an ever present narrator who consistently lightens the mood and casts the stories in whole new light.  As the narrator says “if such things bother you, we should probably stop right now.”  But don’t.  This story is too good.  
Ultimately, the story is about family and forgiveness and our cheeky narrator gets us there, but not without some bloodshed.
Who this book is for:
I would keep this book away from the most sensitive of children, but other than that it is entertaining ride.  Children have been drawn to the Grimm fairy tales for a century.  “Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome.” our author would say.  The narrator certainly provides the levity to make this story truly enjoyable.
Final thoughts:
Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

To purchase this book, go to your local bookstore or click here: A Tale Dark and Grimm

Title:          The Sisters Grimm
Author:     Michael Buckley
Target:      Grade 3-5
Series:        Yes
What this book is about:
Imagine your parents disappearing and you are taken to live with a grandmother you had been told was dead.  It turns out your family watches over fairytale characters you had assumed were just in books.  When your grandmother goes missing you must engage the services of Mayor Charming, Jack the Giant Killer and the sheriff and his deputies (can you say the three pigs!) to try and get her back.
Why I love this book:
These books have been around a few years, but in rereading the first one the other day, I remembered how well done they are!  They are also laugh out loud funny.  There is one scene where the girls and Puck (yes the King of the Sprites plays a wonderful mischievous role in this book) prepare to do battle with the mysterious figure in the locked room.  Wearing a spaghetti strainer as a mighty battle helmet and a pressure cooker lid on her behind Daphne and her sister prepare for the confrontation.  I do it no justice, but suffice to say I dare you not to laugh.
Who this book is for:
Don’t think because this series is called the Sisters Grimm that it is a series for girls.  In fact, while the two main characters are female, the story is suspenseful and action packed and will fully engage boys as well!  
Final thoughts:
This series is clever without going overboard and it revisits all the fairytales in a new way.

To purchase this book, go to your local bookstore or click here: The Fairy Tale Detectives (The Sisters Grimm, Book 1) (Bk. 1)

Title:          The Goose Girl
Author:     Shannon Hale
Target:      Grades 6-9
Series:       No
What this book is about:
This is a retelling of the Grimm fairytale by the same name.  On the way to meet her future unseen husband, the crown princess Ani is betrayed by her lady-in-waiting. In a bloody mutiny her lady-in-waiting takes the place of the princess.  In an attempt to stay alive, Ani, disguises herself as a goose girl in the new kingdom, as she finds the strength and the ability to reclaim her rightful place.
Why I love this book:
This story is really about a girl finding her voice.  Ani is such a realistic character - flawed and all.  Throughout the story she struggles with self confidence, but I like the fact that she forces herself to not let it hold her back, despite the fact it is part of her nature.
I also got thoroughly caught up in the story.  There are some action packed sequences! I read the book until 1am just to find out what happened!
Who this book is for:
Girls looking for a satisfying read and who like the retelling of fairytales.  There are few bloody scenes, but they don’t detract from the story.
Final thoughts:
A wonderful story about girls discovering who they can be.

To purchase this book, go to your local bookstore or click here: The Goose Girl (Books of Bayern)

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