Children's novelist Adam Gidwitz loves fairy tales. No, not the versions featuring pink-frilled princesses and rescuer-princes, but real fairy tales, the ones originally recorded by the Brothers Grimm, stories featuring blood, gore and raw emotions.Gidwitz believes these original Grimm fairy tales have a lot to say to kids today, just as they have resonated with children for nearly two centuries.
In his first book, A Tale Dark and Grimm, a narrator constantly interrupts the flow to directly address readers, warning them about some gory parts about to happen, giving them advice about what to expect next or even suggesting that they might want to stop reading.
"Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome.
"I know, I know. You don't believe me. ... 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."
In that first book, Gidwitz tells the "true" story of Hansel and Gretel, detailing their adventures — through a number of terrible trials involving grown-ups who want to kill them — before they end up at "happily ever after."
In his new book, In a Glass Grimmly, Gidwitz again uses the "intrusive narrator," who starts off by addressing the difference between the "drivel that passes for fairy tales these days" and "real" fairy tales, which are "strange, bloody and horrible." While Gidwitz bases this book on fairy tales, it's a much looser connection than in his first book. Instead, Gidwitz created much of the plot of "In a Glass Grimmly" because he wanted to use the device of fairy tales to focus on some of the challenges today's kids face, like bullying and neglectful parents. "The reason I love writing for children is that you can really talk about serious issues in a fun way. ... I call it 'serious fun,'" Gidwitz says.