“A Tale Dark & Grimm” by Adam Gidwitz

  This is a bloody good book.  Literally.  Hansel and Gretel are the main characters, but their story is not confined to just meeting the witch with the candy house in the forest.  Rather, Gidwitz mines the complete collection of the Grimm’s Fairytales and has the brother and sister show up in stories with which younger readers will probably be unfamiliar.  Along the way, heads are cut off, fingers are severed, and people are cooked.  Because of this reason, this book may be too much to handle for younger readers (in fact, the narrator pops in and out warning the reader to keep the younger kids away).   I would definitely recommend A Tale Dark and Grimm to older readers looking for updated fairytales with a lot of blood.  Grades 5+

The Witch’s Guide to Cooking with Children by Keith McGowan

 A wonderful, modern twist on Hansel and Gretel.  Sol and Connie have moved with their father and stepmother to a new town.  The neighbor next door, Ms. Holaderry, seems a bit funny, especially when Sol realizes that her dog has been gnawing on a human femur!   After a few visits to their local public library (!!), the children surmise that she is indeed an evil witch.

I truly enjoyed this book.  McGowan is able to preserve the simplicity of the old tale while also updating it for a modern audience.  For such a quick read, the book still manages to build the characters so that the reader becomes invested in them.   One especially strong point of the book is the old lady at the local curiosity shop.  She is the “good witch” of the story who is able to indirectly aid the children in their attempts to evade Ms. Holaderry.  I truly enjoyed this delightful fairy tale.  Ages 9-11