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broodings from the burrow

January 13, 2009

into the stacks: 2009.1
posted by soe 11:44 pm

My goal for the four-day weekend is to find all the books I finished in 2008 and to write quick reviews of them for the blog. In the meantime, I’ve decided for 2009 that I’m going to write the reviews one at a time in the hope that I’ll be better about blogging about them in a timely fashion.

Of course, I just finished book #3 for the year today. But let’s proceed as we mean to go on:

The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detectives, by Michael Buckley

From the jacket: “For Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, life hasn’t been a fairy tale. After the mysterious disappearance of their parents, the sisters are sent to live with their grandmother — a woman they believed was dead! Granny Relda reveals that the girls have two famous ancestors, the Brothers Grimm, whose classic book of fairy tales is actually a collection of case files of magical mischief. Now the girls must take on the family responsibility of being fairy-tale detectives. Their first case? A roller-coaster ride of an adventure to stop a giant from destroying their new hometown.”

My take: As those of you who have read these book reports before will already know, I love literary adaptations, particularly those of a fairy tale nature. Shannon Hale and Jasper Fforde are favorites of mine because they can take material we all know backwards and forwards and make it fresh again. So when I saw this series a few years ago, I made note of it and promised I’d get back to it. And I have.

Buckley is not as talented as either Fforde (who writes for adults) or Hale (whose adaptive work is predominantly aimed at the younger set), but the first in the series of sister mysteries suggests he is adept enough that I’d like to keep reading. Each girl has an authentic personality. Sabrina, who’s nearly 12, is protective of her younger sister and masterminds their escapes from all sorts of unsuitable foster homes, while Daphne, at a mere seven, already knows that the way to get around her sister is to pretend to humor her.

When crazy things start happening around them, Sabrina is ready to bail, understandably believing that the woman who claims to be their grandmother is another huckster they need to flee. After all, pixies don’t really exist; those had to have been a particularly nasty swarm of mosquitoes. And it’s much more likely that there was a freak earthquake that flattened that farmer’s house rather than a giant.

But when the woman claiming to be their grandmother and her friend, Mr. Canis, are kidnapped right before their disbelieving eyes, it seems like there’s nothing for the girls to do but start trusting their street-smarts and get to work figuring out the mystery. Along the way they’ll have to get past the likes of Mayor Charming, Police Chief Hamstead and his two porky deputies, Jack (who hasn’t outsmarted a giant in years), neighbor Puck, and other refugees from bedtime tales to solve the case. But will they be in time?

I think kids in the 6-12 range would enjoy this story, so if you’re looking to buy for that age group, consider this series. The copy I read includes a reader’s guide that encourages kids to write their own fairy tales — either on their own or as a group activity — and to check out the original source material.

Pages: 284

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