Along the same vein as A Tale Dark and Grimm, and In a Glass Grimmly, this tale follows Jorinda and Joringel as they navigate their way through various fairy tales, ala the Grimm Brothers: The Juniper Tree, Cinderella, and a few others. It is dark, bloody, and no-holds barred. But don’t worry, the author warns you before the really gruesome bits so you can skip pages if you want (you won’t want to, though!).
What I liked:
I love these books. I think it is so important for fairy tales to be told as they were meant to be, as morality tales, tales of strength, courage, and resourcefulness. warnings about power, corruption, and dishonesty, while showing that there is the possibility for good in the world, despite the darkness (or maybe in spite of it). They are sometimes scary and sometimes bloody, but that is how life is; and it is not all physical, but emotional too, which is important for kids to realize. Not all scars show. Each person has to fight his or her own battle and come through the other side, for better or worse.
I have read almost all of the original Grimm fairy tales, and Gidwitz’s books are spot on. The language is more modern and conversational, the characters of Jorinda and Joringel are also more relateable to the average reader, and while they story takes dark dips, it always comes up for air with a spot of kindness and humor (so the reader is never overwhelmed). Also, the fact that it was the children who had the power to change the ending of the story was a great empowerment for readers, and kids in general. Yes, this is a fiction story, but that doesn’t mean that small attitude adjustments can’t change the course of your day, or how you interact with your friends and family for the better.
What I didn’t like:
This is not a case of me wanting more. I thought the general pacing was good, with not too much. However, I had some issues with the narratorial intrusions and the weird metafictional tone that happened in the middle of the book, when the author puts himself in the story with Jorinda and Joringel and they tell tales to one another and have pizza in the present. While there are authorial interjections throughout all of the stories, the ones in this book seemed to be really personal, talking about how the author dealt with issues. I don’t think that needed to be there, it felt too personal and more like I was reading the author’s diary, rather than the same story I had picked up a few hours earlier. The way the story progressed was metaphor enough, it didn’t need to be bluntly stated. Kids aren’t stupid. They get it. They might not get the entirety of it, but the get it enough that it doesn’t need to be spelled out.
I was really taken out of the story when it happened, and almost had a hard time getting back into it. I kept waiting for the author to address the elephant in the room again and couldn’t relax and enjoy because of it.
That was the only point that I disliked!