by Adam Gidwitz
Plot Summary:In this mischievous and utterly original debut, Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm-inspired tales. As readers follow the siblings through a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind (and beyond) the bread crumbs, edible houses, and outwitted witches.
Fairy tales have never been more irreverent or subversive as Hansel and Gretel learn to take charge of their destinies and become the clever architects of their own happily ever after.
Review:This novel uses different Grimm fairy tales and recreates them to tell a new version of Hansel and Gretel's story. The author also frames the story in his own version of a dark fairy tale that I found very inventive. The darker, macabre nature of Grimm's stories are maintained and emphasized by the asides of the narrator who comments or supplies warnings to the reader. The changes and updates made by the author are very clever and entertaining while also commenting on the resilience of children and the gulf between a child's understanding and a parent's understanding. (And the meaning of the word "understanding") It's a clever way to explore thought-provoking themes and it adds much depth to a book aimed for a middle grade audience.
The way the story is framed - with comic asides and hints dropped by the narrator - at first seems a little too gimmicky, but I quickly found I enjoyed the narrator's interruptions and the way it created tension and expectations in the unfolding of each story. And although the narrator never feels like an integral part of the story, he/she does give perspective on the ultimate moral of the tale.
Clever, wryly humorous and very entertaining, I think these tales can appeal to old and young readers because it enhances the magic of fairy tales while also adding depth and real emotion.