Confession: I am a sucker for fairy tale retellings. I love stories that begin with, “Once upon a time,” and end with, “Happily ever after,” especially if the retelling puts a unique twist on the original story. Such is the case with A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz published by Dutton Children’s Books in 2010. You’ve never Hansel and Gretel like this before, where blood and wry humor restore awesomeness to fairy tales.
The real Grimm fairy tales used to be awesome, but over time, parents have removed the violent, bloody parts (in other words, the coolest parts). But not so in this story. After their father decapitates them, Hansel and Gretel (brought back from the dead, but still, he decapitated them) decide to run away and find a better family.
However, as they travel, they soon discover the world is not a kind place. They meet a cannibalistic baker woman, gamble with the devil, condemn a soul-stealing warlock, and receive aid from three fortune-telling ravens. As Hansel and Gretel endure painful trials, they learn how to under-stand others, forgive them, and save their kingdom. This clever story is great for those who love unique fairy tale retellings with a hilarious running commentary from the author.
Book Group Questions
- How did Hansel’s and Gretel’s painful journey and sacrifices change them for the better?
- What do you think about the concept of under-standing in this story? How did Hansel and Gretel learn this concept?
- What do you think about these retellings? How do they differ from the original stories? And which do you like better: the original or the retelling?