Earlier in the week I'd thought I'd try and spend parts of today playing video games (in order to find out if the man studying dragons who complains he's never observed their feeding habits gets eaten by one, because my bet is yes) - but somehow the plan morphed into "drink way too much caffeine, intake sugary things, and read childrens' books!" Not that I struggled much trying to avoid it. I was here, the books I'd remembered yesterday, and here we all are.
On to the review - which, look, I'm actually posting now! (It's the caffeine, I swear. I've now had three times my usual amount. I should do this more often.)
Do you remember the first time you watched the film (Gene Wilder version) of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory? And the point where you realized that this wasn't just a magical journey into a fantasy factory but was instead a story about awful people being murdered one by one? I hadn't read Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None at that point, but boy, are there parallels! And I'll admit I was honestly pleased to watch the awful, awful children disappear in various deadly scenarios. (The film reassures us later that they're alive but we don't see them again, so I was never really convinced. Also if it was really a Christie story I suppose it'd turn out that the evil parents planned it all together, as they all wanted to be rid of their villainous spawn. ...Spawn is such a perfect word there, isn't it? Sounds much more slimy than offspring. Hmmm, where was I going with this...)
It's that sort of glee that I felt as I read Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird. (Though there aren't many murders in the book. Actually just one. Or maybe two - it's hard to tell. And I don't count chapter nine.) There are SO many fairy tales where people do awful things yet end up rich and married to royalty, so it's wonderfully refreshing to have that pointed out (often by characters within the story) and then turned upside down. A few of these were endings I didn't even realize I'd wanted - because again, ugh, so many annoying princesses and princes running around.
An aside on how I picked up this book in the first place. For a number of years when my mom retired she and my dad were volunteer readers for local public schools. This is when locals come in and spend time reading aloud to children, and then talk with them about the books. It may sound easy, but it's pretty much like any reading group - you read the book beforehand, make notes, and you also mark some of the stories to make them more easily read aloud. Also to cut down the time, because depending on the age group, kids are only going to sit still for a certain amount of time.
Anyway, some of the kids books were donated after they'd been read/used, but my folks kept a great deal of them, mainly because many of them are both funny and classics. And also because I said "hey, don't give that away, I eventually want to read that!" So there are a ton of children's books here that I never have read and most of which are new to me. This is one I remember reading reviews on and mentally putting on a TBR list back in the mid 1990s.
I think my top "I never DID like that character!" moment from fairy tales was the princess with the golden ball in The Frog Prince. Without spoiling it, let's just say that the frog critiques her perfectly, and acts accordingly. Which I'd file under Happy Ending. In fact there are multiple instances of one of the Happily Ever After couple instead deciding "nope, not for me!" Randomly, in a completely different (and darker) tone, the Hansel and Gretel story is nicely creepy yet managing to still be fairly kid safe. In the same way the 1960s film Village of the Damned is. (Actually both are pretty creepy, it depends on how much you think about them.)
There are multiple stories, but also poems and a few short bits. And humor all over the place.
Now to figure out how to quote some of this without spoiling too much...
The Sisters Grimm: Tales From the Hood by Michael Buckley
Word of advice: if you don’t like it in the beginning, just keep going. It gets better (except for the trial scenes. Those were awful).
Wow. What an awful begging! Sabrina starts going through puberty and suddenly can’t handle being called “dog face” anymore. Then when Granny Relda, Daphne, Sabrina, etc. go to Robin Hood’s law practice, Sabrina develops an instant crush. Made me want to smack the book. And the author. And the editor. You get the idea.
Then Daphne tried to emulate Sabrina. See above.
It was just annoying. I don’t mind it when a character changes gradually, but when it’s all of a sudden and obnoxious like this, just no.
The only other major complaint I have is the trial scenes. They were rushed and stupid. Yes, I get that the judge was crazy and thus the trial was disorderly. But there is a fine line between insane and inane. The first couple of trial scenes were the later. The last two were ok.
The whole Goldilocks ordeal was probably only thrown into this book to make it longer, but it was tons of fun. I loved the idea of the traveling chest thing. Reminded me a bit of the vanishing cabinets from Harry Potter.
Bluebeard was just plain creepy. I was surprised by the allusions to his being a predator. I guess that most of it would go over a younger child’s head but it still surprised me a little.
The alleyway scene was also a huge surprise to me. I did not expect Charming to kill Bluebeard.
The art was mediocre. All the girls looked the same, except for Relda. And that’s only because she’s old.
I've personally enjoyed the Grimm family solving crimes in the confined spaces of Ferryport Landing. Readers of mystery series will know that often times the small towns, the enclosed areas give the writer a fertile place to grow mysteries. There is something about seeing the same people caught up in situations that makes them more compelling and connectable, I think.
Now though, Sabrina, Daphne, and Granny Relda with their companion Mr. Canis and additional friends Hamstead (one of the famed Three Little Pigs) and Puck are taking on the Big Apple!
NYC, hold on to your hat!