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
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?