November 2, 2012
In a Glass Grimmly
First sentence: "Once upon a time, fairy tales were horrible."
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Others in the series: A Tale Dark and Grimm
Cousins Jack and Jill aren't very special. Jack's always trying to be one of the Big Boys in the village, following them around trying to be a part of the crowd, much to their annoyance. Jill's the daughter of a Very Beautiful Queen (who was, initially the Very Beautiful Princess who threw a ball down a well which was rescued by a frog), and can never live up to her mother's expectations, no matter how much she tries.
Then, two things happen: they make friends with a talking Frog (of the princess story) and they make a blood oath to find the Seeing Glass. Which means they have Adventures, of course. Like the first one, these adventures wander through retellings of traditional fairy tales (with some original ones thrown in, something I found out after reading the author's note at the end). They kill some giants, outsmart some dwarves and meet a fire-breathing salamander with a very long German name, before heading home, exhausted, yet wiser for their adventures.
This one, much like the first in this series, has a lot going for it. A fabulous narrator, who interjects (perhaps not quite as often) with words of wisdom, advice, even though it's a bit distracted this time around, actually forgetting to do its job a couple of times, to humorous effect. ("Sorry, sorry! Totally forgot! Last time! Promise!) In fact, my single favorite page is the one where the narrator gets all huffy that we, the readers, have imagined everything and leaves so that we can just figure out the rest of the story for ourselves. Too funny.
It also is nice because this one works as a stand-alone. If you've read the first one, you are familiar with the world and the style of writing, but that's the only things. This one is a completely separate storyline, with a completely separate set of characters having completely separate adventures. All of which I found to be refreshingly enjoyable.
My only quibble is that (and my memory may be faulty; it has been a while since I read the first one) this one didn't seem to flow quite as smoothly as the first one. And that the Moral got a bit heavy handed at the end. Even so, it wasn't enough for me to not thoroughly enjoy the humorous fairy tale genius that is Adam Gidwitz.
(Just for the record: because this is a Cybils nominee, I've been asked to make sure y'all know this is my opinion only, and not that of the panel.)
Labels: Middle Grade