A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Grimm Warning, the latest installment in the Land of Stories series, delivers still more of author Chris Colfer's frenetic but deft mash-up of unexpected elements. Here the now 14-year-old protagonists reunite and bring a few friends on their quest to save the fairy-tale world from a new peril: one of Napoleon's nastier generals, who's brought his Grande Armée along to conquer the place. Hair-raising adventures and questionable decisions abound (a lie here, a kidnapping there). Characters face many dangers, and some, including beloved ones, die from guns, swords, fire, and dragon attacks. Amid the excitement, teen heroes deal with their first crushes and first, brief kisses; there are occasional bits of crude wordplay ("kick your ashes") and jarring language, such as, "Screw the code!"
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
After the events of Book 2, Conner Bailey, now 14, is settling into "normal" life with his mom and stepdad, trying to adjust to the fact that his twin sister Alex is forever separated from them: She's living in the Land of Stories, preparing to fill her grandmother's role of Fairy Godmother. But, thanks to fateful events 200 years in the past involving the Brothers Grimm, Mother Goose, and one of Napoleon's nastier generals, Conner gets A GRIMM WARNING that the Land of Stories is once again in dire peril. Soon he, the classmate he has a mad crush on, and a 10-year-old German boy rush to the rescue. Once again, laughs, wisecracks, clichés, shout-outs to literary and pop culture characters, dark violence, noble speeches, and sad losses ensue.
Is it any good?
Chris Colfer has the plot-device generator set on stun, racing at warp speed through Europe and fairy kingdoms while bombarding readers with wisecracks, pop culture, teen angst, and tender moments. You (and the characters) never get a chance to savor the moment or go, "Wait, what?" as the narrative juggernaut lurches along with lots of twists, terror, and life lessons. But as Colfer brings the fantasy adventure to the edge of yet another cliff at story's end, there's plenty to be resolved in Book 4.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how storytellers revisit well-known tales to make a new point. What point do you think the narrator is making in his version of the "Hansel and Gretel" story? How does this version differ from other versions you've heard? Why do you think that might be?
What did you learn about London, Berlin, and other real-life European destinations that turn up in the story? Does A Grimm Warning make you want to check out these places if you haven't already?
A Grimm Warning mentions many intriguing subjects in passing and pretty much leaves it to you to find out more. Do you find this cool or annoying?
- Author: Chris Colfer
- Illustrator: Brandon Dorman
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Princesses, Fairies, Mermaids, and More, Adventures, Book Characters, Brothers and Sisters, Fairy Tales, Friendship
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: July 8, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 480
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (abridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
- Last updated: June 19, 2019
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