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Video: Al’s Book Club: Young readers review a ‘Grimm’ tale

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    >>> encounter witches. the author of "a tale dark and grim," we want to welcome back our book club group of kids on their last segment together. it's a little bittersweet. good to see you guys. we've got a live special guest, audrey , from california, who is skyping in with us. nice to see you, audrey .

    >> hi.

    >> hi. why did you decide to go with a fairy tale ?

    >> i was a teacher, i'm glad to say i was a terrible teacher, really bad at it. i loved telling stories . i took down this book and never read the real fairy tale . turns out their terrifying, totally freaky. i look up at the end of the story, every kid looks like this --

    >> horror.

    >> terror. but some of them were like, that was good. you should make that into a book. and i was like, huh, maybe i should. so i did.

    >> did they get to share in any of your royalties?

    >> none.

    >> there you go. let's start off with samara. what's your question?

    >> good morning.

    >> hi.

    >> throughout your story the main characters , hansel and gretel encounter problems.

    >> both of them. great thing about fairytales, not only are they like freaky, scary, bloody, but they talk about us, our fears, what we want. and so all of the stories are really about me and you as well as children doing terrifying things.

    >> what's your question, sydney?

    >> my favorite part of the book was the humorous comments from the narrator. did you incorporate those to lighten the original darkness?

    >> yeah. the original kids i told them to, i figured i had to make a joke once in a while to calm them down, help them get through it. i decided when i wrote to book to put those original comments through the story.

    >> your last question as a book club member.

    >> pleasure to meet you. when you began writing your book, did you know how you wanted the story to end or did different adventures come to you?

    >> i knew how i wanted it to end and it turns out i was wrong. i had to rewrite it, like 12 times and when i figured it out i was so excited, i was like, i got it!

    >> did you say it in that voice?

    >> exactly. i've got it!

    >> audrey , our guest from california, has a book club kid's question.

    >> hi. i loved your book. what did you want to make different in your story of hansel and gretel as compared to the original grimm fairytales?

    >> there are certain similarities and certain differences from each story. and in this one, instead of having a witch in my book, the woman just likes to eat children, you know, because they're tasty, right?

    >> yeah.

    >> yikes. just one thing -- audrey 's like, yeah. let's find out how our kids rate this had book on a scale of one to five, they are giving "the tale dark & grimm" five stars. all right. thank you. and a lovely tie as a christmas present. thank you so

TODAY books
updated 10/4/2012 9:47:34 AM ET 2012-10-04T13:47:34

Just in time for the Halloween season, Adam Gidwitz's "A Tale Dark & Grimm" gives some classic fairy tales an awesome reboot. Read an excerpt from the latest pick of Al’s Book Club for Kids.

Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome.

I know, I know. You don’t believe me. I don’t blame you. A little while ago, I wouldn’t have believed it myself. Little girls in red caps skipping around the forest? Awesome? I don’t think so.

But then I started to read them. The real, Grimm ones. Very few little girls in red caps in those.

Well, there’s one. But she gets eaten.

Meet the kids in Al's Book Club

“Okay,” you’re probably saying, “if fairy tales are awesome, why are all the ones I’ve heard 
so unbelievably, mind-numbingly boring?” You know how it is with stories. Someone tells a story. Then somebody repeats it and it changes. Someone else repeats it, and it changes again. Then someone’s telling it to their kid and taking out all the scary, bloody scenes—in other words, the awesome parts—and the next thing you know the story’s about an adorable little girl in a red cap, skipping through the forest to take cookies to her granny. And you’re so bored you’ve passed out on the floor.

The real Grimm stories are not like that.

Take Hansel and Gretel, for example. Two greedy little children try to eat a witch’s house, so she decides to cook and eat them instead—which is fair, it seems to me. But before she can follow through on her (perfectly reasonable) plan, they lock her in an oven and bake her to death.

Which is pretty cool, you have to admit.

But maybe it’s not awesome.

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Except—and here’s the thing—that’s not the real story of Hansel and Gretel.

You see, there is another story in Grimm’s Fairy Tales. A story that winds all throughout that moldy, mysterious tome— like a trail of bread crumbs winding through a forest. It appears in tales you may never have heard, like Faithful Johannes and Brother and Sister. And in some that you have—Hansel and Gretel, for instance.

Puffin Books

It is the story of two children—a girl named Gretel and a boy named Hansel—traveling through a magical and terrifying world. It is the story of two children striving, and failing, and then not failing. It is the story of two children finding out the meanings of things.

Before I go on, a word of warning: Grimm’s stories—the ones that weren’t changed for little kids—are violent and bloody. And what you’re going to hear now, the one true tale in The Tales of Grimm, is as violent and bloody as you can imagine.


So if such things bother you, we should probably stop 
right now.

You see, the land of Grimm can be a harrowing place. But it is worth exploring. For, in life, it is in the darkest zones one finds the brightest beauty and the most luminous wisdom.

And, of course, the most blood.

From A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. © 2012 by Adam Gidwitz. Used by permission of Puffin Books, an imprint of Penguin Group.

© 2012 MSNBC Interactive


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