In a Glass Grimmly

Book review by
Sally Engelfried, Common Sense Media
In a Glass Grimmly Book Poster Image
Fractured fairy tale is clever, touching, and violent.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 3 reviews

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

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 & Representations

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
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 nightm... Continue reading
Adult Written byAlexandre M. February 24, 2018
This book is funny smart and violent
Teen, 15 years old Written byBookWorm02 August 8, 2018

If you can read at all read this book

I 100% recommend children reading this book, it's very creative and I feel is better than the classics.. yes it may be violent and the detail in the violen... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byKidface May 10, 2018

Weird but awesome!

It's such a good book but I think that it was to grusome and when Jack and Jill have IT! GOD!

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love fairy tales

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