Monday, 18 March 2013

Grimm Tales Reviews

Grimm Tales For Young and Old
Philip Pullman
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Two hundred years ago, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first volume of Children’s and Household Tales. Now, at a veritable fairy-tale moment—witness the popular television shows Grimm and Once Upon a Time and this year’s two movie adaptations of “Snow White”—Philip Pullman, one of the most popular authors of our time, makes us fall in love all over again with the immortal tales of the Brothers Grimm.
From much-loved stories like “Cinderella” and “Rumpelstiltskin,” “Rapunzel” and “Hansel and Gretel” to lesser-known treasures like “Briar-Rose,” “Thousandfurs,” and “The Girl with No Hands,” Pullman retells his fifty favorites, paying homage to the tales that inspired his unique creative vision—and that continue to cast their spell on the Western imagination
This was an interesting collection of stories to read. Philip Pullman has reinterpreted some of the classic fairy tales collected by original Grimm Brothers. As a long time Pullman fan and a fan of fairy tales, I was very happy to receive a pretty hardback version from my long-time friend and occasional guest reviewer, Sarah for Christmas. (The cover looks a lot nicer in real life than it does in this picture!)
There are a lot of familiar ideas and stories in this book – but there are plenty of not so well known ones that are a joy to discover for the first time. The ‘new’ writing of them is easy to follow and feels very traditional. It was fun to see that the original Cinderella didn’t have a fairy Godmother or a pumpkin coach for example. I was fascinated as well by Pullman’s notes at the end of the story which delved into the changes he made or the different interpretations of the story over the years. This also served to remind me that even the same basic story can be flexible enough to change – even in the lifetime of the Grimm Brothers. One of my favourite ideas lies in the idea of repetition with many elements done three times with only slight variations as well as the idea that being kind to strangers and creatures usually brings a reward.
However, there I found I couldn’t read too many of the tales in one sitting as by their very nature there is little character beyond general strokes of ‘lazy’, ‘cheerful’, ‘evil’, ‘innocent’, ‘clever’. The stories are only ever a few pages so there is no time to get to know or develop character (in fact few even have names) and the plots don’t have the same complexity as modern novels. As a result I ended up reading this book over a month, slipping in a few stories between my main reads which meant I was never bored or just flipping through.
This is a very different type of book and almost needs to classed separately. Overall though, this was a joyful read which brought make many memories of listening to my parents read to me when I was younger and is definitely a book I want to keep to read to other children when I can.
Recommended for fans of Marissa Meyer and Malinda Lo. 8 out of 10


  1. Ohhh I like when they change fairy tales :D

  2. I've been reading it for months, just dipping in now and then. I love all the historical notes at the end of each story and it's fascinating to see how much some of the stories have changed.

  3. Hm... don't think it's for me. I love retellings but I enjoy them for the characters. I love seeing the familiar characters in a new light. Not happy about those broad strokes. However, I probably wouldn't mind it for a pressie for someone with kids. :)

  4. I really enjoyed this one, but then I love Pullman so will enjoy anything he writes.
    I found the repetitiveness of the stories oddly comforting and whizzed through the whole book in just a couple of days. I felt like I was living in an enchanted forest, it was wonderful!

  5. Hmm, I've been getting into the fairytales lately. Maybe...