Author: Adam Gidwitz
Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale retelling, Middle Grade
Publisher: Dutton Children’s Books
Publication date: September 2012
Hardcover: 312 pages
More Grimm tales await in the harrowing, hilarious companion to a beloved new classic
Take caution ahead—
Oversize plant life, eerie amphibious royalty, and fear-inducing creatures abound.
Lest you enter with dread.
Follow Jack and Jill as they enter startling new landscapes that may (or may not) be scary, bloody, terrifying, and altogether true.
Step lively, dear reader . . .
Happily ever after isn’t cutting it anymore.
In this companion novel to Adam Gidwitz’s widely acclaimed, award-winning debut, A Tale Dark & Grimm, Jack and Jill explore a new set of tales from the Brothers Grimm and others, including Jack and the Beanstalk and The Frog Prince
Stand alone or series: This is a companion to A Tale Dark and Grimm but can be read as stand alone
How did we get this book: We both got ARCs at BEA
Why did we read this book: Thea LOVED A Tale Dark and Grimm when she read it last year and didn’t rest until Ana agreed to read it for a What She Said. Since Ana loved it too it was only a matter of WHEN for us to tackle the companion book.
In a Glass Grimmly is a companion novel to Adam Gidwitz’s 2011 book A Tale Dark and Grimm and is as delightful and smart as its predecessor. In it, we have main characters the cousins Jack and Jill who undertake a journey through the landscape of several different fairytales – a journey that is a Quest (to find a Looking Glass) but which like most Quests often do, turns out to be a Coming of Age story (this one is about identity and finding one’s true self). Unlike the first book which was a retelling of a series of Grimm tales with Hansel and Gretel at the centre of them, In a Glass Grimmly is a patchwork of retellings from different sources ranging from Grimm Tales to nursery rhymes, Jack and the Beanstalk, The Frog Prince and many others. I say patchwork in the best possible way because this is a collection that works really well when put together.
I have been thinking a lot about fairytales at the moment – especially their structure and motifs – so this book came at the right time. I recently saw a talk by Philip Pullman’s on his recent book Tales From the Brothers Grimm (which Thea recently reviewed) and I think one of the most interesting things he has said is how often fairytales in their original format are more about plot and story (as well as lessons) than character development. This can be glimpsed in the way that fairytales move from plot point to plot point without a lot of description which results in lack of characterisation. This is, one thinks, what gives fairytales such lasting life because they are meant to be rearranged and retold and elaborated upon according to each storyteller’s gifts. And this is exactly what Mr Gidwitz’s does and the greatest strength of his books is his gift for the storytelling via his choice of narrator – an omniscient narrator who constantly interrupts the story with asides. Those are often funny but most of the time they also offer critical insight and they carry the story through. Although I wouldn’t go as far as to say that the characters have been imbued with a super deep emotional background, there is enough here to make these characters come to life. My point is: it is very easy to imagine this narrator sitting around a fire telling these stories to those who care to listen to them.
This is a humorous-yet-bloody story full of adventures that I feel, would be greatly appreciated by kids and adults alike. I loved it.
Once upon a time, there were two Book Smugglers who loved fairy tales more than you can possibly imagine. Go ahead, picture two girls who love fairy tales. Got them in your head? Good.
Together these two girls embarked on a reading adventure, fraught with peril, blood, vomit, and all sorts of other disgusting goodies. And you know what? They loved every last bloody bit of it.
In A Glass Grimmly is, as Ana said, the companion novel to Adam Gidwitz’s wonderful debut middle grade book A Tale Dark and Grimm (which I loved wholeheartedly). I was eager to read this second book, but a little nervous, too – frightened that Gidwitz wouldn’t be able to capture the same magic as the first book, since this companion novel follows completely different characters. Long story short: I needn’t have worried. In A Glass Grimmly is every bit as fantastic as its older sibling. But I’m getting ahead of myself:
Instead of following Hansel and Gretel, Grimmly follows cousins Jack and his unlikely princess sibling Jill. Yes, Jack falls down (from atop a beanstalk) and breaks his crown, with Jill tumbling after (also from atop the beanstalk)…with a three-legged frog named Frog to keep them company. Jack and Jill have rough starts and find themselves searching for different things – Jack wants to be respected and adored, Jill to be beautiful like her beautiful mother (who is connected to Frog in a terrible way). Along their many journeys – to the clouds where they meet a murderous group of giants, to the sea where they meet a beautifully cruel mermaid, to the goblin market, to beneath the earth where they befriend an unlikely salamander. Unlike its predecessor, In A Glass Grimmly blends the work of the Brothers Grimm with other iconic fairy tales and nursery rhymes – including Hans Christian Anderson, and Mother Goose (both of whom make appearances in this book). The result is refreshing, charming, and utterly memorable. Of course, the message of the book – to understand what one really wants, separate from the con-fusion of what other people see – is also fantastic.
As with A Tale Dark and Grimm, this book is beautifully written, blending earnest fairy tale telling with a somewhat snarky narrator (who interjects and warns when things are about to get scary/disgusting – or apologizes after the fact), making this a perfect book for reading aloud (of course, it’s also perfect to be read alone in silence). This blend of humor and charm – without pandering or dumbing down content – is what makes this book so memorable.
In short, I loved In A Glass Grimmly. Truly. I cannot wait to read more from the talented Adam Gidwitz and wholeheartedly recommend this book.
“There is this weird thing that happens, when you stop worrying so much about what other people think of you…you suddenly start seeing what you think of you.”
You can read a full excerpt online HERE.
Ana: 7 – Very Good
Thea: 8 – Excellent
Reading: Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill
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