Reviews for Tale Dark and Grimm
Booklist Reviews 2010 November #2
As if Hansel and Gretel didn't already have it tough in their original fairy tale, Gidwitz retrofits a handful of other obscure Grimm stories and casts the siblings as heroes. Connecting the dots, he crafts a narrative that has the twins beheaded (and reheaded, thankfully), dismembered, hunted, killed, brought back to life, sent to hell, and a number of other terrible fates en route to their happily ever after. Some adults will blanch at the way Gidwitz merrily embraces the gruesomeness prevalent in the original tales, but kids won't mind a bit, and they'll get some laughs out of the way he intrudes on the narrative ("This is when things start to get, well . . . awesome. But in a horrible, bloody kind of way"). The author also snarkily comments on the themes, sometimes a bit too heavy-handedly. The question many readers might have about the Grimms' tales is perfectly pondered by the long-suffering twins: "Are there no good grown-ups anymore?" Not in these forests, kiddos. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
Gidwitz weaves several Grimms' tales into one darkly humorous book starring Hansel and Gretel. The author interrupts the main text periodically, speaking directly to readers (e.g., "I'm sorry. I wish I could have skipped this part. I really do ). The combination of powerful stories and grade-school humor may do for the popularity of Grimm fairy tales what the Percy Jackson books did for Greek mythology. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #1
Instead of the oft-tried technique of expanding a single Grimms' fairy tale into a novel, Gidwitz takes several tales and weaves them together into one darkly humorous chapter book starring Hansel and Gretel. The brother and sister are two of the unluckiest children ever, as they fall into the clutches of a succession of terrible grown-ups, from their father who cuts off their heads to the baker woman who wants to eat them, and even the devil himself. In the bloodiest and most terrifying story, Gretel falls in love with a handsome young man who lures her to his home in the woods where he daily hacks young women to pieces for dinner. The author introduces the stories and interrupts them periodically in passages set off in bold type, speaking directly to the reader in a deliberately modern and informal tone: 'I'm sorry. I wish I could have skipped this part. I really do. Gretel cutting off her own finger?' The commentary can occasionally feel grating, but the combination of powerful stories and grade-school humor will probably introduce Grimm fairy tales to modern children just as Percy Jackson has popularized Greek mythology. SUSAN DOVE LEMPKE Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2010 October #2
Fairy tales for the horror set blend themselves into one intact thread that's satisfying enough to overcome an intrusive narrator. The storyteller's voice (presented in bold type) opens by asserting that original Grimm tales are "awesome," "violent and ... bloody," while "all the versions of the stories you've heard [are]... mind-numbingly boring" due to sanitization. It's an odd premise for a piece whose audience is surely aware of many fractured fairy tales that are dark and/or awesome. The narrator contributes unnecessary platitudes, but on the plus side, savvily warns when little kids should leave the room, effectively cautioning big kids that upcoming content is sad or gory—and it really is. Heads are lopped off, blood flows, men reach down girls' throats and pull out their souls. Old Grimm tales and Gidwitz's original additions weave together into one arc, with fiercely loyal siblings Hansel and Gretel at the heart. The narrator's presence lessens; action and emotion deepen; funny gross-outs pop up amid serious violence; and everything builds to one painful and triumphant catharsis. (Fractured fairy tale. 10-13) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
Library Media Connection Reviews 2011 January/February
Take a bit of old fashioned "once-upon-a-time fairy tale," add a splash of the Brothers Grimm, include a loquacious narrator, and you have all the trappings of a rollicking good story. The reader is reminded that the true Grimm stories were violent and bloody, and that bad things happened. So if this bothers you, you are warned to close the book; otherwise do read on and be prepared for a very Grimm-like tale. What follows are nine interrelated chapters, from the tale of Faithful Johannes and how, as a devoted servant to the king, his faithfulness leads to his own death, to the last chapter where Hansel and Gretel are finally reunited with their parents, slay the dragon, and save the day. Along the way we encounter cannibalistic bakers, severed fingers, evil magicians, dragons, and the devil himself. When the action really gets exciting, the narrator breaks in to comfort, support, clarify, and even warn the reader about what they've read. Younger readers may find this tough to unders and as they move through the story, but your older, more sophisticated readers should enjoy sharing the story with an invisible partner. Recommended. Joanne Ligamari, Teacher Librarian, Johnson & Garden Valley Elementary Schools, Twin Rivers School District, Sacramento, California ¬ 2011 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 October #3
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 ("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.) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC
School Library Journal Reviews 2010 November
Gr 3 Up--With disarming delicacy and unexpected good cheer, Gidwitz reweaves some of the most shocking and bloody stories that the Brothers Grimm collected into a novel that's almost addictively compelling. He gives fair warning that this is no prettified, animated version of the old stories. "Are there any small children in the room now?" he asks midway through the first tale, "If so, it would be best if we just...hurried them off to bed. Because this is where things start to get, well...awesome." Many of humanity's least attractive, primal emotions are on display: greed, jealousy, lust, and cowardice. But, mostly it's the unspeakable betrayal by bad parents and their children's journey to maturation and forgiveness that are at the heart of the book. Anyone who's ever questioned why Hansel and Gretel's father is so readily complicit in their probable deaths and why the brother and sister, nonetheless, return home after their harrowing travails will find satisfying explanations here. Gidwitz is terrifying and funny at the same time. His storytelling is so assured that it's hard to believe this is his debut novel. And his treatment of the Grimms' tales is a whole new thing. It's equally easy to imagine parents keeping their kids up late so they can read just one more chapter aloud, kids finishing it off under the covers with a flashlight, and parents sneaking into their kids' rooms to grab it off the nightstand and finish it themselves.--Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY [Page 114]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.