A Tale Dark and Grimm

Adam Gidwitz, Author
Adam Gidwitz, Dutton, $16.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-525-42334-8
Reviewed on: 10/18/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
Paperback - 197 pages - 978-1-78344-087-0
Paperback - 197 pages - 978-1-84939-370-6
Prebound-Glued - 256 pages - 978-0-606-23144-2
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4618-0668-4
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-84939-891-6
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-101-44528-0
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-14-241967-0
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Hansel and Gretel actually had their heads chopped off. Who knew? If that statement sends you scrambling for your favorite search engine, Gidwitz is savoring that reaction. And for readers who shriek with bloodthirsty delight, not skepticism, he has much more in store. Fracturing the folk tales of the Brothers Grimm, Gidwitz brings together old and new traditions of matter-of-fact horror. Hansel and Gretel become recurring characters in reworked versions of the Grimms' lesser-known tales, such as "Faithful Johannes" and "The Seven Ravens" (here, "The Seven Swallows"). The children are seeking a "nice" family after their father, no woodcutter but a king, pulls the aforementioned beheading stunt ("[T]hey believed firmly in their little hearts that parents should not kill their children"). The perfect family proves elusive, and the children must extricate themselves from one outrageous situation after another—including, yes, a hungry old woman in an edible house. The rhythms and rhetoric of the prose are heavily influenced by verbal storytelling, which can on occasion strike a false note, but mostly add the intended wry wink to an audacious debut that's wicked smart and wicked funny. Ages 10–up. (Nov.)
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