Buckley, Michael. The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detectives. Written for very young readers (grades 4-6), The Sisters Grimm feature two young sisters whose parents have disappeared. After spending over a year in and out of foster care, Sabrina and Daphne are placed with a grandmother they did not know they had. Sabrina is suspicious of Granny Relda and plans on making an escape. The girls, however, find themselves in the town of Ferryport Landing where humans and characters from fairy tales exist side by side, and they are quickly required to solve a mystery and locate their Granny Relda before it is too late.
I'm of two minds on this book: first, I think it would appeal to very young readers. On the other hand, I'm one of those who doesn't really care for watered down fairy tales. The book takes a humorous approach, but I find the altered personalities of some of the characters disconcerting.
Fairy tales-- the very scary and often very sad kind-- were a part of my early childhood. I read and cried over The Little Match Girl, too many times to count. I found Hansel and Gretel terrifying--what father would obey a stepmother and lead his children into the woods in order to abandon them? Fairy tales made me grieve, they frightened me, and they made me think. I knew no stepmother could ever change my father's love, but what about those children whose parents didn't seem as committed to each other or to their children as my parents? My imagination moved events back and forth from the fairy tale world to the real one.
Memories of one leather-bound set that I loved are as clear as anything in my childhood. That set belonged to my aunt, and my cousins (all boys) were not interested in them, but I loved the embossed and gilded leather of those books and remember turning over and over to certain volumes and certain stories. Aunt Janice treasured those books from her childhood, and so did I. What ever happened to them, I wonder. I can still conjure up the images I formed then, as well as the sense of right and wrong that evolved as I judged the tales and the characters. The original Grimms and Hans Christian Andersen told the fairy tales I loved, feared, delighted in, not Disney.
I don't think the modern, tidy, sanitized versions hold up as well because they skim the surface and avoid the depths; children deserve more credit.
So... what do I think of The Sisters Grimm? It's fine if you want pancakes, but if you want meat and potatoes, the book will not quite satisfy. Or maybe I'm just too old to make a contemporary judgment... I loved Nancy Drew when I was young, not exactly thought-provoking, but thoroughly entertaining. We all want pancakes some of the time. Then, as now, I was an indiscriminate reader, bouncing from adult novels to children's books and from fiction to nonfiction without blinking an eye. Remember the biographies for young readers? And the books about wasps and ants?
I ordered the second in the series, The Unusual Suspects, at the same time and will read it as well. The series may grow on me. I do love the covers!
This site has a great atmospheric piece of music and other info on The Sisters Grimm series.
Fiction. Young reader/ mystery/ fairy tale. 2007. 284 pages.