- Wini Ashooh
When the Brothers Grimm wrote their fairy tales in Germany in the early 1800s, they were scary. Many of them were so scary, in fact, that they were considered unsuitable for small children. As time passed, the stories have been altered to give them wider audience appeal. In A Tale Dark and Grimm, Adam Gidwitz has brought the scary back to Grimm. This is not a fairy-tale book meant for small children. The author gives fair warning periodically throughout the story that the tale is going to get gory and it does!!!
In this retelling of Hansel and Gretel, Gidwitz weaves in other Grimm tales. The reader will recognize The Robber Bridegroom, Faithful Johannes, and The Devil and His Three Golden Hairs, among other stories. There really is a gross-out factor to these tales--one that will find appeal with teen and adult audiences. This is not a read-aloud for second graders. Fingers do get chopped off...I mean, what would you do in Gretel's place? A girl has to do what a girl has to do....right?? On yes, there is the pesky matter of the parents who attempt to chop off the heads of Hansel and Gretel.
This tale was thoroughly engaging, and the story moved at a very fast pace as Hansel and Gretel move from one situation to the next. There is also the macabre element, but just enough to keep the reader entertained. All the elements of the classic fairy tales are here. Gidwitz also interjects humor along the way. I found myself anxious for the next chapter as I followed the characters along their perilous journey. Hansel and Gretel encounter evil witches, dangerous dragons, and even the Devil himself. There is also an allegorical element to this story as brother and sister help each other and persevere against the threats they encounter each day. They were strong and determined and maintained a sense of humanity and a sense of humor. Hats off to them to them as they battled evil, only to find out that you really can go home. But there might be a dragon waiting for you when you get there.