Monday, October 10, 2011

Marvelous Middle Grade Monday: A Tale Dark and Grimm

I found my MMGM pick A Tale Dark and Grimm from the 2010 Cybil's Middle Grade Fantasy list. I love The Grimm Fairytales so I was intrigued by the story. I also loved the first line of the story: Once upon a time, fairytales were awesome. I couldn't agree more.

A Tale Dark an Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
Published 2010

The Hook: When Hansel and Gretzel's father cuts off their heads, they are healed by magic but decide to run away to find parents who won't hurt them. The children weave through several Grimm fairytales and find under-standing.

Why I loved it: A new story woven through classic fairytales and an incredible moral. Seriously, I can't say enough about how much I loved this story and the woven Grimm. And the moral of under-standing isn't preachy but essential to the fairytale. The writing is also amazing, the balance between the story and the narrator insight (to diffuse scary parts) is well done. This is a great story for tweens who love scary stories BUT let me emphasize that this story is very scary. There is tons of blood, guts, and a staggering body count. This is NOT for younger middle graders and I wouldn't recommend it to children under the age of 12.

Parent Heads Up: A particular chapter in the story where Gretel meets a warlock is particularly disturbing. The warlock is a charming young man who happens to be a serial killer and Gretel watches him rip the soul out of a young girl and then he chops the dead girl to eat her. See Exhibit C to read the most disturbing passage from the book.

I'm just say'n, the book is great but you've been warned.

Want More? Go to Adam Gidwitz's website.

Have you read a middle grade book you felt was too mature for its audience?


  1. I think you used this example in a previous post about how dark is dark? We have been forewarned--and I thank you for that.

  2. Sounds like an awesome book. Thanks for sharing about it.

  3. Yes, that kind of gory is a bit much. I just finished Moon over Manifest and it's not too mature in a scary kind of way, and it's a good story but it is extremely complicated. Just not sure how many MG readers would really be willing to stick with it.

  4. Oh, thanks so much for the warning! As a bookseller, I'm always being asked for recommendations. Good to know about that particular scene. I still want to read the book!

    My MMGM choice this week has a similarly gruesome scene. But in ISLAND'S END, it's the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, not a fantasy scene. Don't know which is worse!

  5. Anne Ursu's BREADCRUMBS (you won my ARC!) weaves new story into fairy tale. It was super interesting to hear Anne speak about why she chose to do this.

    The grimness of this particular weaving of Grimm even lures the adult me from it. I'm not much for blood and guts. But I'm intrigued by your review of it.

  6. I really want to read this one!! Great review. :-)

  7. Great review...this one is on my Kindle waiting patiently for me to get to it. I think the dark depends of the reader. For some that would be too too dark, for others it would be okay...but that balance/choice is always difficult!

  8. I just got this one. Thanks for the heads up on the one part! Can't wait to read it.