Gris Grimly's Tales from the Brothers Grimm

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
Gris Grimly's Tales from the Brothers Grimm Book Poster Image
Favorite tales get grim, gothic treatment and stylish art.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Gris Grimly's Tales from the Brothers Grimm collects more than 40 classic stories of European folklore. Many have become familiar aspects of popular culture around the world.

Positive Messages

Good behavior is often rewarded. Bad deeds lead to punishment. Clever children can use their intelligence to outwit adults who mean them harm.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hansel and Gretel outwit the witch who intends to eat them. The valiant tailor is confident enough to face great danger. Little Red-Cap saves her grandmother from the wolf.

Violence & Scariness

There's all kinds of mayhem in the Tales from the Brother Grimm. Children are killed and/or eaten. Faithful servants are turned to stone. A valiant tailor fights giants. A girl is plied with wine until she dies, and her body is then cut to pieces. The violence is described in a matter-of-fact manner.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gris Grimly's Tales from the Brothers Grimm is a lavishly illustrated edition that collects 41 European folktales. The stories may seem harsh to modern readers, but they impart valuable lessons about loyalty, resourcefulness, and gratitude. The level of violence is high -- children are killed and/or eaten, a girl has her hands amputated, etc. -- but the mayhem is framed within the context of make-believe. Grimly's macabre paintings add a gothic air to the proceedings.

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What's the story?

GRIS GRIMLY'S TALES FROM THE BROTHERS GRIMM collects more than 40 tales, ranging from the very familiar -- "Hansel and Gretel" and "Cinderella -- to the delightfully obscure -- "Cat and Mouse in Partnership" and "Mother Holle." The stories are not "Disneyfied," but presented with their original, often harsh, sensibilities intact. There are magic frogs, evil stepsisters, talking animals, giants, elves, magical quests and terrible curses -- all the items young readers expect when they hear the name "Grimm," plus beautifully rendered paintings and drawings that capture the action and mood splendidly.

Is it any good?

Readers young and old love the tales of European folklore collected by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, but this volume an extra dose of darkness, thanks to the distinctively gothic illustrations. Gris Grimly's paintings manage to be simultaneously humorous, disturbing, and beautiful, the perfect complement to these stories that have withstood the test of time.

The language in Gris Grimly's Tales from the Brothers Grimm is a little stiff and old-fashioned, but that's part of the fun. Younger children will enjoy having these stories read to them, and older kids will be captivated by the stylish art.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Gris Grimly's Tales of the Brothers Grimm differs from many other interpretations of these classic tales. Why are fairy tales often rewritten to be less offensive to modern readers?

  • What role do children play in these stories? Are they regarded differently from how most people view kids today?

  • What lessons did these stories impart to readers in times past? Are these lessons still useful today?

Book details

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