Book Review: A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

Book: A Tale Dark and Grimm
Author: Adam Gidwitz
Pages: 192
Published: October 28, 2010 by Dutton Juvenile (an imprint of Penguin Group USA)
The first line: “Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome.”

Copy provided by: SLJ’s Day of Dialog

Every once in a while, I read a children’s book that’s so funny, so original, and so creative, I rip through it at a voracious speed, soaking up every page in a giddy fashion. A Tale Dark and Grimm is a perfect example of just such a book!

In a witty and clever voice, Gidwitz (re)paints the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel in an entirely new light. Starting with the tale of Faithful Johannes, the ever under-standing (as in he literally stands under) servant of Hansel and Gretel’s grandfather, readers are afforded a first row seat to the winding tales of a distant kingdom. Gidwitz repeatedly warns his readers to beware of the sometimes bloody, sometimes foul, and always awesome events that are to come. And there are plenty of gruesome events. Three talking ravens who foretell a dismal future. A faithful servant turned to stone. A father who cuts off his children’s heads. A cannibalistic baker woman. Seven brothers turned to swallows. A self-mutilating little girl. A boy morphed to beast. The very depths of hell. The devil himself. A fire-breathing dragon. And on and on. Best of all, each tale is interspersed with the optimistic advice and cheeky wit of the narrator. Ultimately a tale about family, love, and the power of forgiveness, children and parent readers alike will relish this wonderful book.

Gidwitz’s comfort in rehashing these Grimm tales appears effortless. It’s hard to believe that this is his debut novel.  A Tale Dark and Grimm is a testament to Gidwitz’s promising future as a children’s writer. I will be watching him closely, waiting anxiously to read his next book!

I highly recommend this book to lovers of fariytales, fables, and lands far, far away. Fans of Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine, Sisters Red or Sweetly by Jackson Pearce, Beastly by Alex Flinn, or Wicked by Gregory Maguire will love this refreshing take on the “once upon a time” motif! 

Awards that A Tale Dark and Grimm has won:

The New York Times Editor’s Choice Book

A 2010 American Library Association Notable Book

A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year (2010)

Publishers Weekly‘s Best Children’s Books of the Year for Fiction (2010)

Goodreads Choice Award for Middle Grade and Children’s Books Nominee (2010)

Connect with Adam Gidwitz:

On his Website / On Goodreads / On his Podcast

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2 comments on “Book Review: A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

  1. Adam Silvera on said:

    Loved this review and book! You just reminded me of the Devil scene – that was probably my favorite of them all! The self-mutiliating business was a bit much to; that’s my prime example when informing the parents that it’s a pretty dark collection of stories fused with humor to soften the blow.

    Librarians love this damn book too! Reasonably so. I remember one particular article where they praised it as being the most true to the Grimm legacy they’ve read. And yeah, it simply is, folks.

    If you’re a fan of middle-grade stories, read this. If you’re a fan of the Grimm Bros, read this. If you’re a fan of well-written adventures, read this.

    Oh – one last note – badass cover. I loved the narrator’s warning about the dragon in the story and how it doesn’t appear like the one on the cover and was far scarier. Oh my God, great book!

    Sorry. Done rambling.

    • Genna Sarnak on said:

      Personally, I loved your rambling, Adam! The devil scene was probally the one I laughed the loudest at. The way in which he describes the ridiculous events that go on is just so refreshing! I totally agree with you in that librarians and readers alike will love this book. While it’s not for the queasy or weak-stomached readers, A Tale Dark and Grimm has so much to offer, both in humor and in tone. I think it’s a perfect example of accessible and well-written books for kids. Many people fail to understand (or admit) that some children’s and YA novels hold literary merit in their own right. I wish more people would realize that and not limit themselves to labels! This is a perfect example of a truly enjoyable middle-grade or tween book.

      Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful comments, Adam! :)

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