4/16/11 (later) ** The final 2/3 of the fairy-tale mystery brought if from a 3-star to a 4-star. It was well worth finishing - several plot twists and the kids were able to solve their problems without adult intervention. Also, a good set-up for an ongoing mystery with the girls' parents, who had apparently disappeared, not murdered. Middle grades kids will enjoy!
Well, I had a revelation relating to the feeling that the girls seemed to be card-board cutouts - The older girl is the one from whose perspective is told; she saw her younger sister as an object to be protected. As she started seeing her sister as a contributing partner, the characterization improved.
4/16/11 ** I started this several days ago after picking it up at an independent bookstore over spring break. I'm always on the look-out for books that my fourth graders can read that will also expand their cultural knowledge. This series is based on the premise that the Grimm brothers' fairy tales are actually case files of 'magical mischief' and that fairy characters, such as Prince Charming and Jack and the giant are alive in world.
I plan on finishing this book, and I think it's fine for middle-grades, but it's not knocking my socks off. The most interesting character is Mr. Canis, who says little, is much stronger than he appears, and occasionally growls. Given is wolfish name, I'm assuming that he will ultimately be shown to be one of the many wolves from the fairy tale universe. The author is doing a reasonable job using foreshadowing to help me build my understanding of Mr. Canis.
As I was wondering about Mr. Canis, I realized that one reason the book isn't pulling me along is that two main characters, human girls orphaned 18 months prior to the beginning of the book (echoes of Unfortunate Events
), seem to be cardboard cut-outs. As I continue reading, I'll be looking for better development of their characters.
3/27/11 ** Saw this at Bookworld in the middle grades section. I thought the idea that the Brothers' Grimm fairy-tales were actually "case files of magical mischief" that needed to be investigated was intriguing. It seemed like the series might be a way to invite modern kids into traditional fairy tales, especially if they aren't particularly familiar with the non-Disney versions.
Have any of you read them? Insights from the young readers you know?