A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Grimm Conclusion is the final entry in Adam Gidwitz's Grimm series, following the companion books A Tale Dark and Grimm and In a Glass Grimmly, and he once again presents familiar fairy-tale elements tied together in an unfamiliar way. Like its predecessors, The Grimm Conclusion is indeed grim, keeping with the traditional, unwatered-down tales of the Brothers Grimm. A child is murdered and put in a stew that his mother eats. Heads are cut off, as are parts of feet to fit them inside shoes; and children are neglected, abandoned, and chained to their homes (though murdered children also are brought back to life through magic and cleverness). Throughout the grisly parts, however, Gidwitz interrupts his narration with humorous asides assuring readers that, although he knows the story is "messed up," it will eventually lead to a happy ending.
What's the story?
A couple longs for a child and is magically granted baby twins Jorinda and Joringel. When the father dies, the mother marries a wicked stepfather who murders Joringel and blames it on Jorinda, who grows to hate her home life so much she agrees to marry a prince she meets at a ball. Meanwhile, Joringel comes back to life as a bird, drops a millstone on his stepfather, and comes back to life. These events are only fuel for the real story, a classic fairy-tale quest that includes a scary forest, an ogre, talking ravens, and an exciting battle between soldiers and an army of children.
Is it any good?
Author Adam Gidwitz really knows his fairy tales, and THE GRIMM CONCLUSION is just as satisfying as the previous books in the Grimm series. As always, he keeps the wonderfully gruesome parts and manages to infuse the story with a modern-day feel through his chatty narration and relatable characters. However, he takes the metafiction one step too far when Jorinda and Joringel venture out of the story and into Gidwitz's world: a Brooklyn public school classroom.
There Gidwitz does what he so skillfully avoided in A Tale Dark and Grimm and In a Glass Grimmly: He becomes didactic. Instead of having the characters figure out what they need to do to make their lives better, he has a grown-up give them the psychoanalytical reason for their pain and tells them how to fix it. This is a disappointing choice from a writer whose strength lies in the subtle way he imparts wisdom and life lessons through fairy-tale metaphors. Despite this, the exciting adventures of Jorinda and Joringel will keep readers engaged and will especially appeal to fans of the first two books.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about fairy tales. Why are these old stories still so interesting to us that they're still retold today in books, movies, and television shows?
Can you think of other books, movies, or TV shows wherein the characters talk to the audience? How does it affect the story when writers use this technique?
How do you think The Grimm Conclusion compares with the first two Grimm books? Is it a satisfying end to the series?
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