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In a Glass Grimmly
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
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.
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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.
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?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.