In a Glass Grimmly Book Poster Image

In a Glass Grimmly



Fractured fairy tale is clever, touching, and violent.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Just as he did in his first book, A Tale Dark and Grimm, in In a Glass Grimmly, author and narrator Adam Gidwitz teaches readers that the original intent of fairy tales was to offer moral lessons and truths to live by. This time he broadens his influences from just the Grimm Brothers to include Joseph Jacobs and Hans Christian Anderson, giving readers  a sense of the longstanding tradition of fairy tales as a truly necessary form of entertainment.

Positive messages

Without mentioning anything modern such as the pervading influence of media, the cult of celebrity and beauty, or status symbols, Gidwitz manages to give readers food for thought on these issues as he shows how Jack and Jill must learn to like themselves before they can make other people like them. He also shows how difficult it can be, even after you've thoroughly learned a moral lesson, to stick by it, but he goes beyond happily ever after to show it can be done.

Positive role models

In the beginning, Jack and Jill each might seem a bit shallow: Jill wants to be beautiful and Jack longs to be friends with the popular boy in the village. But the two cousins have genuine affection for each other, and as they journey through lands of giants, mermaids, and goblins, they discover that the wishes imposed upon them by their parents are not really who they want to be. Their journey to self-confidence is a completely believable transformation -- all the more so because it doesn't quite stick the first time they try it out, and they must relearn their lesson in order to truly understand it.


Gidwitz again makes good on his promise to offer a horrible story in the true sense of the word: "causing feelings of horror, dread, unbearable sadness, and nausea." Some of the horrible elements include wading through a room full of giants' vomit and blood, almost being drowned by a mermaid, a character nearly cutting off his own hand with a sword, someone's lips being sewn together by goblins, and facing three mysterious beings who've obtained immortality through their practice of murdering children and building a basement out of their bones. It's not for the faint of heart, but once again narrator Gidwitz gives readers a heads-up and invites the squeamish to skip the upcoming parts -- which will no doubt serve to increase most readers' determination to read on.

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Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that In a Glass Grimmly is a companion book to Adam Gidwitz' A Tale Dark and Grimm. Gidwitz is up-front about the fact that the fairy tale he is about to tell is not boring or cute and makes frequent funny and informative interjections when things are about to get "strange, bloody, and horrible," warning readers that this part may "produce nightmares, whimpering for one's parents, and bed-wetting." He grounds the story in two likable characters, Jack and Jill, cousins who support each other through their self-doubt and hardships. There's plenty of humor here, as well as violence, including almost being drowned by a mermaid, a character nearly cutting off his hand with a sword, someone's lips being sewn together by goblins, and three mysterious beings who obtained immortality by murdering children and building a basement out of their bones. Jack and Jill don't take the horrors they must go through lightly, and readers will learn along with them that sometimes you must go through difficult experiences before you can become enlightened.

Kids say

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What's the story?

Cousins Jack and Jill each feel that they are a disappointment to their parents -- Jill because she is not beautiful enough to please her vain mother, and Jack because his father wishes he would be a leader, not a follower. When they learn they can obtain their hearts' desires if they find the ancient Seeing Glass, both wish to gain those qualities their parents think they lack. They go through several exciting trials, including outsmarting several giants at the top of the beanstalk, resisting the charms of an enchanting mermaid, and escaping from the clutches of the goblin king, which teach them much about their own strengths and weaknesses. In the usual manner of quests, Jack and Jill come to understand that their final reward may not be what they thought it would be.

Is it any good?


In a Glass Grimmly is a charming and engrossing book. It follows virtually the same structure Adam Gidwitz used so successfully in his first novel, A Tale Dark and Grimm: a narrator relates, in a conversational tone, the true and ancient nature of fairy tales. He warns off the squeamish, then offers a series of linked tales that grow in complexity as the novel goes on, occasionally interrupting the tales with his own comments. Though the book certainly has its share of elements borrowed from old stories such as "Jack the Giant Killer" and "The Little Mermaid," Gidwitz's spin is entirely original, and he proves he's a masterful storyteller in his own right. Although his winning formula loses the sheen of uniqueness this second time around, it will quickly draw in even reluctant readers and makes an excellent read-aloud.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about fairy tales and how they have been used for centuries to impart moral lessons. What makes In a Glass Grimmly works for modern readers?

  • How do you think In a Glass Grimmly compares with the first book in this series, A Tale Dark and Grimm? What do you like about reading modern fairy tales?

  • To please her mother, Jill pretends she, too, cares only about her looks. In our world, is there media pressure on girls and boys to look a certain way? 

Book details

Author:Adam Gidwitz
Genre:Fairy Tale
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Fairy tales, Friendship
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Dutton Children's Books
Publication date:September 27, 2012
Number of pages:192
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 17
Available on:Nook, Hardback, iBooks, Kindle

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bybayleek March 7, 2015


It does have a lot of getting heads cut off, blood, dying etc... But it is an amazing book! And i first read the first one when i was 8 and never got any nightmares or anything like that.. So i totally recommend this book!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Educator and Parent of a 10 and 12 year old Written byCrescentmoon50 March 23, 2016

Horror series

I have a problem with robbing children of their innocence. That is exactly what this series does. There is already enough violence in the world without purposely introducing it at such an early age. This series was read to my 9 year old daughter this school year, without any warning to parents or thoughts on how it may affect some children. This wouldn't even be read at the high school where I work.
What other families should know
Too much violence


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