middle grade

A Tale Dark & Grimm series by Adam Gidwitz

7825557 I read the book A Tale Dark & Grimm many years ago and loved it. Again, I love anything to do with fairy tales. I recently found out that the book was not stand-alone, but actually the first in a trilogy. Of course I had to quickly reread the first one and then I zoomed through the last two.

The first book, A Tale Dark & Grimm follows Hansel and Gretel as they walk through many other fairy tales from the Grimm Brothers. The second, In a Glass Grimmly, follows Jack and Jill as they again wander through the vast world of fairy tales. In the final book, A Grimm Conclusion, Jorinda and Joringel again wander from fairy tale to fairy tale.

I loved all three books. What I appreciated most about each book was the way the narrator interacts with the reader, as if he is right there telling the story. I think this gets at the importance of fairy tales, that they are stories to be told and shared and oh, yes, as the narrator constantly reminds us, they are gruesome too. I also like the way the author takes inspiration from fairy tales and other legends and creates a new story. And makes connections between the books, such as with the crows and the interactions with hell and the dvil. I think this is in line with fairy tales coming from an oral tradition and by creating these new stories, the author is definitely in line with the oral tradition. I also like his addition at the end where he writes about sharing these stories with his classes.

I like so much about these books, but the last thing I want do add is the message in each book that the children learn. I won’t reveal too much, but many of the messages boil down to family and love and being honorable and doing the right thing.

These are perfect books to see fairy tales in a new light and I’m just sad there are only three books.


The Girl Who Owned a City by O. T. Nelson and illustrated by Joëlle Jones

13022967125 pages
Published April 1, 2012
Source: Netgalley

My parents are gone, so I’m responsible for my little brother Todd. I have to make sure we stay alive. Many kids are sick or starving, and fierce gangs are stealing and destroying everything they find. Lots of people have given up, but here on Grand Avenue, some of us are surviving, because of me.
I figured out how to give the kids on Grand Avenue food, homes, and protection against the gangs. But Tom Logan and his army are determined to take away what we’ve built and rule the streets themselves. How long can we keep fighting them off? We need to find another place for us to live safely. A strong place, a secret place. In a world like this, someone has to take charge.

Review: Some horrible disease has spread over the United States, only afflicted those over 12 years old. The only survivors are children, obviously. They must become resourceful or starve to death. Lisa and her brother are surviving on their own, but must face gangs that want to steal their food and resources. Lisa bands together with her neighborhood and they create a “city” in an former school.

Apparently this graphic novel is taken from the original book by O.T. Nelson. I’ve never read this book, so I can’t comment on the original. This book was originally published in the 1970s and I thought the illustrations had a retro feel without being dated. It was a nice nod to the original. Lisa is a strong character almost to the point of it being a fault. She creates a city and claims it as her own, to the point where she doesn’t want to admit that others helped her create the city. I felt like this could be a realistic mindset of an eleven year old.

Lisa, and many other of the characters are strong and resourceful and are able to survive despite their being no adults. I did a little research on the original book, and it looks like O.T. Nelson wanted to write a book with children in charge, to show children that they have their own power and agency. I think he accomplished this, because the children are able to survive on their own.

The ending seemed open ended and I don’t know if the original book is like that, but I do want to know if anything else happens to these characters. It does seem to be left open to have a sequel, and I would be interested to know more about the disease (which baffles me that it could only kill adults), what is happening in Chicago (briefly referenced in the book) and whether Lisa’s city is able to survive the onslaught from the other gangs.

Overall, I give this graphic novel 3 stars, I liked it.