Release date: UK 4th August 2011
Genre: Fairy-tale retelling
Target audience: 8+
UK Publisher: Andersen Press
A Tale Dark and Grimm is the hilarious, twisted and bloody story of Hansel and Gretel. If you think you know their story, think again. Gidwitz will make you see those innocent children in a whole new light and wonder how the truth ever got brushed under the carpet.
I haven’t actually read any of the original Grimm fairytales. I know the standard storybook collection retelling of Hansel and Gretel like everybody does but I’ve never glimpsed their writing. So I have no idea how much of Gidwitz’s retelling stays true to the original and how much is his own invention. But it hardly matters because either way it is brilliant. Why have I never bothered to ask why Hansel and Gretel ran away? This seems such an obvious question to me now. There is a whole story to answer this question and so Gidwitz takes us on their journey and he teaches all about parental flaws. In fact we’ll learn lots of lessons and come through this journey much wiser, assuming we survive the cannibals, the warlocks and the devil himself.
Gidwitz delights the reader with his mocking of the bizarre and unpredictable laws of fairytale magic. He draws our attention to it – for example, the moon hungers after children’s flesh. Why? He doesn’t know. But the fact that he tells us this makes us feel a part of that world.
This book revels in its goriness. It celebrates it. The author often interrupts the story to warn us that something dark is coming. He tells us to turn back. But of course, we want to see these hideous happenings that he eludes to. We brace ourselves for the darkest times and honestly, when he interrupted with his witticisms I was reduced to cackling. It is that funny.
A Tale Dark and Grimm works so well because of the author voice. We feel like the author speaks only to us. As if he is in the room, sitting by the fire and dramatically turning the pages. Children will love this. It’s horribly grim and it’s comical and those are two things they cannot get enough of. I will be recommending this book to my students and I heartily recommend it to all of you.
Thank you to Andersen Press for sending me the book to review.