Adam Gidwitz reveals the true story of Hansel and Gretel in A Tale Dark and Grimm (Scholastic 2010). He discovered the true story through much arduous research and dangerous travels through the land of Grimm. Trust me, this story is not like the tame versions you may have heard for bedtime stories. The true tale is much darker and much bloodier. I think you will like it. I know I did.
After surviving the story of “Faithful Johannes” (one of the Grimm tales I had not read before), Hansel and Gretel run away to find better parents. Along their journey they encounter a house made of cake inhabited by a child-eating mother, free seven swallows from the Crystal Mountain by sacrificing a finger, survive another child-devouring warlock, and escape from the devil himself through the gates of hell. Sometimes they are together and sometimes they are torn apart (and sometimes literally torn). In the end, they discover that there are no perfect parents and just maybe they can go home again–if they can raise an army to defeat the dragon terrorizing the kingdom.
One of things I enjoyed the most in this story is the narrator. He frequently interrupts the story with warnings (Shoo small children out of the room before reading!) and commentary (That was a dumb thing to do or I told you it was going to be bloody.) and even reassurance (Don’t worry. Ivy and Betty will be fine.) The narrator’s sometimes hilarious asides reminded me of Lemony Snickett’s narrator in The Series of Unfortunate Events. Don’t worry, Gidwitz’s narrator has his own unique voice, but the two would probably get along famously.
Enough from me. I’m just looking forward to sharing this title as one of the Young Hoosier nominees this year. I bet many students will enjoy it. Meanwhile, enjoy the trailer and get a flavor for these dark and hilarious fairy tales.
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