I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
In this mischievous and utterly original debut, Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm-inspired tales. As readers follow the siblings through a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind (and beyond) the bread crumbs, edible houses, and outwitted witches.
Fairy tales have never been more irreverent or subversive as Hansel and Gretel learn to take charge of their destinies and become the clever architects of their own happily ever after. (source)
This summer, I'm taking a course on Storytelling. I've been looking forward to this class since before I started my grad school program and I'm so glad that it's finally here! We're required to read several texts that approach storytelling in a unique way, and this was the first that I decided to read.
I've seen this book at the various libraries that I've visited and worked at in the past several years and I'd been intrigued by it, but never enough to actually check it out. I'm so glad that my class gave me the opportunity to read it! This is honestly one of the most unique takes on fairy tale adaptation that I've ever read. First, Gidwitz chose to focus his story on Hansel and Gretel. Now, I love a Cinderella story as much as any other girl, but I found it incredibly refreshing to read a fairy tale adaptation that wasn't a princess story. Well, not really, anyway - in this take, Hansel and Gretel are royalty, but this isn't your stereotypical princess-falling-in-love-with-the-prince story.
Secondly, this book is dark. Like, seriously, this is one gory book. At times I couldn't believe I was reading a children's book. This is perfect for your budding horror novel enthusiast. Because of that, this book definitely is NOT for every child - I mean, no book really is, but parents, I definitely would recommend reading this yourself before handing it off to your child, particularly if that child is under the age of 10. I'm a bit stumped about who the intended audience is for this book, because I'd say reading level is thoroughly middle grade (and a middle grade reader would most likely be able to handle the graphic content in this), but in his afterword, Gidwitz makes it pretty clear (in my opinion) that he feels this would work equally well as a read aloud with younger children, say around second grade. While I definitely think that some second graders would love this book, there are for sure some out there who would be terrified of this book, so, again, I highly recommend that you tread with caution before reading this with a younger child. That being said, I do think that the dark nature of this book is well-suited to it: it's meant to mirror the style of the stories of the Brothers Grimm, and if you've ever read their original tales, then you know that their stories aren't exactly light and fluffy. Therefore, I think it makes sense that Gidwitz let loose with the gore in this.
As for the storytelling style, the narration for this book is superb. The narrator interjects his/her own comments frequently throughout the story, clearly designated by boldface font. The narrator is quite humorous, in ways that I think that both kids and adults will enjoy. Coolest of all, the narrator speaks directly to the reader. I always think this is fun, because when it's done well, it really can draw the reader into the story. And that's exactly what happened for me with this book.
So, to sum this all up, I very highly recommend that you read this book. It may be a children's book, but I do feel that many adults will enjoy it, too, especially those with a dark sense of humor. This book is very cleverly written, and if it's representative of Gidwitz's writing as a whole, I look forward to reading more of his books in the future. Again, tread with caution before introducing this book to young children - but not too much caution, because this really is not a story that should be missed!