The Grimm Conclusion by Adam Gidwitz

I wasn’t even sure if I’d read this one or not, and at times I thought “maybe I did read this?” because it is quite similar to the previous two books. It’s got the same wonderful style, gleeful delight in the gore of Grimm, and absolutely engaging storytelling. And then a wonderful meta-surprise that did indeed make this a wonderful conclusion to the other two books.
I would love to share these with my 4th grader, but honestly even though the gore and and violence is tempered by the humor, I think it may actually be too much for him. I thought this was funny, touching, and clever.
This final installment is about Jorinda and Joringel, whom I vaguely remember from the Andrew Lang fairy tale collections. It doesn’t matter what you remember about the original Grimm tale, though, because in the must-read afterward Gidwitz tells you that it was mostly their names that he liked and used.

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Hero by Alethea Kontis

After a promising start to the new year of reading, according to Goodreads I’m already one book behind schedule! That’s because I was trying to read a book for review that I just didn’t enjoy and felt too guilty to read other books during that time. Given dispensation to stop reading it I was able to turn my attention to a book I was eager to get to-Hero, the sequel to Enchanted. (and btw, I’ll next be turning my attention to the YA reissues Paul bought me a subscription to-Me and Fat Glenda here I come!)

heroI really loved Enchanted and was excited to read the next story of a Woodcutter sister-this one is about Saturday, who is strong and tall and not blessed with magic of her own. Saturday’s big adventure begins when she accidentally uses magic to flood the land. Various things happen and she ends up in the tallest mountain in the world, locked inside it with a boy who’s been held there under a curse for years. This is where the heart of the story takes place and, unfortunately, I just couldn’t warm to it. It’s like I felt as claustrophobic as they might, living inside a mountain that smells of brimstone. It could be that I just couldn’t picture it as a living space or how they managed to stay alive? It could be that in the beginning I thought it was but one stop in a series of adventures but it turned out to be the whole adventure? Or maybe I didn’t really understand what they all needed to do to escape.  However, I did love the characters she was with-Peregrine (the cursed boy) and Betwixt, a chimera who could change form.  Like Enchanted it was well written and Saturday was a terrific strong character.  So much so, that I’m hoping the next story will be from her point of view, but I assume it will be from the view of another sister.  I really like how these books are all tying together so cleverly and look forward to more!

Twice Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris

twiceIt’s been many, many years since I read Once Upon a Marigold.  At the time I loved that and thought it was hilarious, funny, clever, and charming.  I used to recommend it all the time to kids.  Imagine my surprise to find out (via a friend’s Goodreads updates) that not only was there a sequel, but also a third book!

Even though it had been so long since I read the first book, Ferris easily caught me up to date and I’d even say that you could read this without having read the first book and still thoroughly enjoy it.  Just like the first one it’s funny and clever, mixing in anachronisms and fairy tale bits.  I think if you liked The Princess Bride you would like this very much. I was especially tickled by the attempt of a wizard to explain a new type of joke called a knock-knock joke.  In this sequel Christian and Marigold have been married for one year, enjoying peace and romance and being King and Queen.  The evil mother had vanished at the end of the first book, but it turns out she’d washed ashore in a little town and had amnesia.  When her memory returns she returns to the castle and is determined to take over again.  Hijinx ensue as Chris and Marigold attempt to rid themselves of her once and for all, before she executes the king.

In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz

grimmlyI loved A Tale Dark & Grimm so much that I had to get this second book right away to read.  And everything I loved about the first book is present in this one! Funny asides to the reader, gruesome action, familiar faces and bits from various fairy tales, and so on. In general, I just really like the style this author has going on.

This story is all about Jack & Jill. And yes, Jack does go tumbling down and break his crown, and Jill goes tumbling after.  But who Jack & Jill are and how they end up on a quest is really nicely imagined and put together.  Their story is quite an epic adventure and includes goblins, scary mermaids, a beanstalk, and all sorts of things. There’s a talking frog from a well in this story, which would be the second time in just a few weeks I’ve read about that (first-Enchanted.) This was a wonderful adventure and I hope that we’ll be seeing more of these.

On an unrelated note, I’m not doing so great with my Hub Reading Challenge and am very concerned I won’t finish it.

A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

grimm2I’m not sure where I recently heard about this book-a magazine? a library list? Whatever, it’s GREAT! I loved this so much and am dying to recommend it to someone, but who? I think all the kids I know are a wee bit too young for it. I imagine it would be wonderful to listen to, too, but it’s certainly too much for my five year old to be listening to in the car.

What particularly delighted me about this book were the frequent interjections by the author to the reader. Especially when he warns you that it’s about to get gross or sad or scary so young people should leave the room. All very funny. The story is the story of Hansel and Gretel, but not as you know it. Some of it you recognize, such as the candy house, but did you know they ran away from home because their parents cut their heads off? Sure, they came back to life, but it’s hard to feel safe at home when that has happened.

This is a great fairy tale with all kinds of ups and downs, frightening bits, gory bits (true to true Grimm fashion body parts get hacked off and people get boiled alive), and a wonderful ending. I really loved this and I believe he has another book that I will be getting as soon as I can.

 

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

enchanted(Reading Challenge: BFYA)

I was completely enchanted by this book. hahaha. But seriously, I loved this. Sunday Woodcutter is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, so she is bound to be magical. They live in a world where fey abound and magical things happen. Basically they live in a fairy tale! There are fairy godmothers and enchanted nameday gifts and Sunday’s sisters are all named after the other days of the week. In the wood by an old well one day Sunday meets and enchanted frog. She and the frog fall in love and though she kisses him it does not turn him into a man. But of course he actually does and then must set about meeting Sunday in human form and having her fall in love with him that way. But alas, their families are all mixed up with bad history and curses.  What I loved so very much about this lovely story was that it was not a retelling of just one fairy tale. Instead there were bits of everything woven together-old woman and the shoe, princess and frog, Cinderella, Jack and the beanstalk, Rapunzel, and so on.

I’m a sucker for fairy tale retellings and this was a very original take on it. I loved it!

I can tell from Goodreads that this is Woodcutter #1, letting me know that the author intends to make this a series or trilogy. You know I normally hate that, but in this case it’s ok. The story ended completely, was fully satisfying, but there are so many other characters (6 other sisters who’ve all clearly got their own stories) that it would be very easy and natural to tell each of their stories.  Sort of like how Marian Keyes’ books are about all these sisters in the same family. Except when they came out people didn’t announce ahead of time first book of a big named series. It was just she wrote a book. Then the next book you were reading you were like “hey! She just referred to a sister who seems to be the person I read a last book about.” and it was all very low key and cool. That would never happen nowadays.

Calamity Jack by Shannon Hale

calamityAfter reading Rapunzel’s Revenge I picked up Calamity Jack, which smoothly picked up where that had left off. This one adds to the Old West-fairy tale mashup with a bit a steampunky attitude (or, at least, a few contraptions that seem to fit that, if not the vibe). Sidekick Jack is the main focus of this story, as he returns to the town from which he was soundly booted.  The bad guys seem to be taking over in the guise of “protecting” everyone from the giant ants that are wreaking havoc on the city.  Jack and Rapunzel think it all seems a bit suspicious. Here we get more elements of the traditional Jack and the Beanstalk tale-a beanstalk, a giant, the goose and her golden eggs. The same elements of adventure and fun and witty repartee are here as they were in Rapunzel’s Revenge.  These two were a nice change of pace from my usual novels and I really enjoyed them.  Hoping the fact that they are numbered #1 and #2 means there will be a #3!