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A Tale Dark and Grimm



Last updated Friday, October 11, 2013

Author: Adam Gidwitz
Illustrator: Hugh D'Andrade
Date of Publication: 2010
ISBN: 0525423346
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Oct. 2013

Synopsis: In this mischievous and utterly original debut, Hansel and Gretel walk out of their own story and into eight other classic Grimm-inspired tales. As readers follow the siblings through a forest brimming with menacing foes, they learn the true story behind (and beyond) the bread crumbs, edible houses, and outwitted witches.

Fairy tales have never been more irreverent or subversive as Hansel and Gretel learn to take charge of their destinies and become the clever architects of their own happily ever after.

Note to readers:
•  This is a good story which moves fast and can end at any chapter. Absolutely get to page 35. You may want to start the next chapter which ends at page 50. In the story, the author adds his comments in bold. You may want to have one volunteer read the story and another volunteer read the author's comments.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you know who the Grimm brothers were? (Jacob and Wilhem were writers who compiled German Fairy/Folk Tales into 3 books. The books are now called the Grimm Fairy Tales and they are the basis of many modern stories and movies, such as the Little Mermaid.
•  Looking at the cover, what fairy tale do you think this story is based on? (Hansel and Gretel) (You may want to read the inside cover at this time explaining what the book is about.)
•  What is a fairy tale? (a children's story about magical and imaginary beings and lands)

Vocabulary
•  tome - a heavy weighty book
•  bowed - curved outwardly
•  leering - to look at in an unpleasant way
•  treason - betraying one's country, esp. by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government
•  revelry - noisy fun party
•  modicum - small amount

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Do you agree with the author that some of the bad things could be avoided if Johannes had lied to the Prince about the one room he was not supposed to see?
•  Could Johannes have explained without actually telling the king why he did some of the things he did?
•  How old is Johannes and does he have special powers?
•  Do you think Hansel and Gretel should have run away?

Craft ideas:
•  Write your own grim fairy tale. Start with a happy tale, add some danger and tragedy and end it with everyone coming out ok in the end. If you notice, no one actually died in the end in this book (except maybe the bad witch who was going to eat Hansel & Gretel).
•  Make a Halloween mask of one of the characters in this book -- Johannes, the Golden Princess, the Witch, Gretel, or a typical Halloween character, such as a ghost or skeleton.
•  Make a spooky wooded scene like the one on the cover. Draw or cut shapes of dark, bare trees, Hansel and Gretel and creatures (such as ravens and dragons). Glue the cut-out shapes onto a slightly lighter piece of paper (such as dark blue or purple) for the background. Add a little bit of bright, glowing eyes and a full moon using white or bright yellow crayon or marker.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!