A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Gidwitz tells the reader it's not his intention to educate, but as always, he shows the power stories have to both teach and entertain, and he slips in some good vocabulary words while he's at it.
Express your feelings, even if they're painful. Children shouldn't blame themselves for parental neglect.
Positive Role Models
Despite their frequent promise to never leave each other, siblings Jorinda and Joringel frequently do just that. Though their promise-breaking is the result of each being put in intolerable situations, it causes them to feel horrible guilt, which in turn makes them shut themselves off from other people for fear of hurting them. It's a complex emotional learning curve, but both manage to come out of it stronger and more kind.
Violence & Scariness
As in A Tale Dark and Grimm and In a Glass Grimmly, Gidwitz warns in his introduction to The Grimm Conclusion that the tale he's about to tell is "ghastly, sinister, repellent -- and awesome," and he keeps his promise. Children are murdered (though they're brought back to life through magic and cleverness), heads are cut off, parts of feet are cut off, children are imprisoned, and parents are neglectful. The most awful parts are interrupted by narrator Gidwitz assuring readers that if they stick with the story, they'll be glad they did.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A classic analysis of the tale of "The Sleeping Beauty" is that it's a metaphor for a girl getting her period and growing up; Gidwitz makes it more literal by substituting the prick of a finger on a spindle with the princess being cursed with a monthly pain that makes her act terribly moody. This may resonate with the initiated but most likely will go over the heads of those unfamiliar with menstruation.
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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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.