Aren't I lucky to have a great advisor for newly published children's books? What would I do without the fabulous Marilyn Brocklehurst at Norfolk Children's Book Centre? I have praised her several times in this blog, and if you don't know her bookshop, you should! It is impossible these days to keep track of books, and frankly, I don't trust award shortlists, but I do trust Marilyn. So when I found A Tale of Dark and Grimm in my mail the other day, I pushed aside all books piled by my bed and started reading. I would never ever have chosen this book myself, certainly not with this cover.There is another cover which I might have chosen:
I have read a lot of fractured fairy tales and novels based on fairy tales. In fact, one of Marilyn's earlier recommendations was Tender Morsels. And I have just read proofs of my essay on The Witch's Boy that will appear in the next issue of Marvels & Tales (goodness, I have plenty of links today!). I wish I had read Dark and Grimm when I was writing on The Witch Boy, but of course it wasn't published yet. Both The Witch's Boy and Tender Morsels are elegantly crafted in playing games with readers and challenging them to recognise fairy tales they may or may not know. Dark and Grimm is no worse and perhaps better. It has a wonderful metafictional voice. Yet he admits that he hadn't read the "real" Grimms until he was gownup.
Last week I was discussing fairy tales in my undergrad class, and as usual I tried hard to shock them with some versions that they didn't know. This week, I will read to them the beginning of Dark and Grimm. So that they really wake up.