Modernized versions of traditional fairy tales have become popular in recent years, with television series such as ABC’s Once Upon a Time and graphic novels such as Bill Willingham’s Fables providing creative and original narratives utilizing characters and concepts from old folk tales. Although popular, these newer variations on older fairy tales have created controversy for altering the traditional characterizations and stories that many people grew up with. This exposes a major flaw in many people’s understanding of fairy tales and traditional folk culture—which versions are the “most correct” version of the story, and why? Maria Tatar’s The Grimm Reader is a collection of many of the traditional fairy tales recorded by the Brothers Grimm, providing an English translation of some of the oldest written versions of these stories. Notable for being far more violent than the “traditional” versions of the fairy tales popularized in the Victorian period (and later, by Disney films), the typical Grimm story is a combination of children in jeopardy, adults that range from neglectful to destructive, and flat narrative that is driven by plot rather than by characterization.
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!!!