Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review: In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz AND The Frog King or Iron Heinrich by Philip Pullman

In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Publication date: September 2012
Pages: 192
Source: ARC sent by publisher
For: Review
Series: Companion to A Tale Dark and Grimm

Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm by Philip Pullman
Publisher: Viking Adult
Publication date: November 2012
Pages: 400
Source: Review copy sent by publisher
For: Review

Summary for In a Glass Grimmly: Jack is the brunt of a group of bullies and Jill struggles with her image-obsessed mother. No wonder the two want to leave their lives behind. But, little do they suspect the kinds of horrible adventures ahead for them, including giant pools of vomit and loads of blood.

Things I Liked (about both):
After really enjoying A Tale Dark and Grimm, I was super thrilled to get more of the same.  And I was able to knock out one more pair for my 2012 Classic Double Challenge. This time, Gidwitz takes on a handful of different fairy tales and puts his own skin on them.  One of the first fairy tales that is recognizable (and I cheated by reading Gidwitz's notes at the end that explicitly stated what tales he drew from) is The Frog King or Iron Heinrich.  There are also traces of Jack and the Beanstalk and a few other stories that Gidwitz pulls into the story, but the one I was most interested in was Frog King.  I thought I had an idea of the story of the Frog King or the Frog Prince, but I really didn't have a clue.  Gidwitz's version is intertwined through the entire story and definitely seems to make more sense than the original, showing a much more sensible reaction from the frog.

What a rather horrifying story it is, though!  The princess is an absolute jerk and it really makes you wonder why the Frog King was so persistent in pursuing her.  In Pullman's retelling, there is no kiss that brings the prince back.  Instead, it's after she throws the frog against the wall.  And why on earth would he want to marry her after that?  Definitely, it has zero relation to the Princess and the Frog story I thought I knew.  The original, and the retelling here, were much more gruesome and real - as  are most of the original fairy tales.    And seriously, someone needs to write about Iron Heinrich; he's probably the most interesting person in the whole original fairy tale.  Pullman's retelling is simplistic as the fairy tales always are, but also quite beautifully written.

In a Glass Grimmly has the most delightful snarky narrator, cutting into the story and reminding us of the horrors to come.  Or forgetting to remind us.  I think kids will be clamoring for the book, loving it to pieces and laughing all the way through it.  It would make a fantastic read-aloud, just as the first one seemed to be.  I was captivated from beginning to end, with enough twists to the tales that I had no idea what would happen next.

Things I Didn't Like (about both):
The story in In a Glass Grimmly didn't feel quite as cohesive as A Tale Dark and Grimm - more like some smaller vignettes to see how many tales he could get it.  But I didn't mind, really.  And it isn't the fault of Pullman's that the original story seems so completely illogical :)

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz (more of a companion book - doesn't have to be read first)
The narrator reminded me of the Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch

s-factor: none

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: ->->->
some rather icky details

Overall rating: ****

What less-well-known fairy tales do you find fascinating?

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage


  1. Fairy tales have always seemed a bit strange to me but I still love them off course.

    1. Yeah, how weird that we are fascinated by these disturbing stories :)

  2. My kids are 10, 8, and 6 year old twins. Do you think this would be age appropriate to read to them for our family book club? I wouldn't want to scare the pants off my 6 year olds! Though they are fairly mature and I've been reading them chapter books for years now. Speaking of great read alouds....any chance you could do one of your Listless Mondays with that topic? :)

    1. I would say it isn't precisely scary, but it doesn't skimp on rather yucky blood and guts details. I'd consider flipping through it before hand and just checking out some of the more graphic pages. That is a fabulous idea for a Listless Monday... :)


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