Tuesday, April 5, 2011

SurLaLune Book Club: A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

A Tale Dark and Grimm

So this past weekend my precocious reader niece, age 8 and a few months, was in town. We read about three quarters of A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz out loud together. (I did most of the reading actually while she listened.) I hadn't read it before and grabbed it off the shelf in a last minute attempt to find something to read together having not planned ahead. At Christmas I had given her the boxed set of The Enchanted Forest Chronicles fromwhich we read the first book together. She reads at college level and understands a great deal--she read all of Harry Potter and Percy Jackson through at least once over a year ago. That is to give you an idea of what her reading experience is. I was still a little concerned as I read it to her. Are you sure you won't have nightmares? I kept asking. She didn't and I myself was fascinated by the book. It incorporates several lesser known Grimms tales, including a Robber Bridegroom, if that gives you any idea of content. There is beheading, self-mutilation, murder, and several other things...

This book was scheduled for a March SurLaLune Book Club read but I put the book club on hold as my head has swum with German, Italian, French and such the last few months. I am bringing it back because, well, now I have read the book and want to know what you think.

So on April 24th I will start a discussion for this book. And if all goes well, I still plan a book club reading of My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales now scheduled for May.

Please read A Tale Dark and Grimm. I am fascinated to know what you think, especially any parents. It doesn't shy away from controversy, especially here in the U.S. where our fairy tales are sanitized. That said, it is not a heavy or long read. Most of you will finish it in 2-3 hours. I think that was about how long it took to read most of it out loud. If you are a fan of the original tales, told slightly slant, this is a book for you. It is also a great jumping off point into the Grimms themselves.

And yet I wonder about this as a classroom read. Yes, the teachers are loving it and the students overall seem to be eating it up, but it will upset several parents and freak out a few children. Most of them see much worse on television these days (not that I think that is acceptable) but this is definitely not simple or sweet...


  1. I read it about three months ago. I enjoyed it very much. And yes, it was gruesome, but children themselves can often foster a rather gruesome imagination (I myself pretended to set my dolls on a makeshift raft careening down a river of lava to certain doom). Some parents will be upset, but those are the types of parents, I think, who don't let their children read Harry Potter because they believe it promotes witchcraft and is anti-Christian. You can't really reason with people like that. But those children who love fairytales and are allowed to read them will enjoy A Tale Dark and Grimm. It's definitely worth the read. But it's not for little children. Perhaps 7 and up.