Having never seen the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show as a child, my introduction to fractured fairy tales was James Garner’s Politically Correct Bedtime Stories. I was on a business trip in St. Louis, and I had an extra night at the hotel before the conference started (in order to take advantage of Saturday-stayover low fares). I was doing a bit of Christmas shopping when I came across this slim volume in the bookstore. I was going to buy it for my husband, but it was so good I read the entire book before going to bed.
From then on I was hooked. I bought Garner’s Once Upon a More Enlightened Time and Politically Correct Holiday Stories when they came out the following year, along with Chris Fabry’s Spiritually Correct Bedtime Stories. Later I added David Fisher’s Legally Correct Fairy Tales to the collection – though I don’t think any of the latter books were quite as good as the first one.
When Jon Scieszka’s The True Story of the Three Little Pigs came out in 1996, we bought a copy, and enjoyed it so much that we kept it on the coffee table to share with guests. I still think it’s one of the best in the genre. Of course, by then the idea of fractured fairy tales was getting so popular that they started springing up all over the place, many of them not nearly so funny.
My initial impression of the Sisters Grimm, based on the first book in the series, was that it belonged to the “not nearly so funny” class. As another disappointed reviewer on amazon.com points out, it begins with a compelling premise (which is why I happily picked it up from the children’s section in the library). Orphaned sisters Sabrina and Daphne Grimm find themselves in the home of a strange woman who claims to be their grandmother, in a small town in New York where all the fairy tale creatures from the old stories (which turn out to be true history) now live.
Unfortunately, Sabrina is not a particularly likable character, and the rest of the characters in the story aren’t much better (some are more appealing, but not developed well enough for me to care much what happens to them). There is a mystery to solve, related to a farmhouse flattened by a giant, but the eventual solution does not seem all that satisfying.
Of course, the books are written for children, not adults. But I often enjoy children’s books. (I’m looking forward to reading Alcatraz versus the Knights of Crystallia once our library get a copy.) Some parents do very much enjoy reading these books along with the children – there are hardly any critical reviews at amazon.com from either children or parents. The one critical review I mentioned above does point out that the first book seems to be a setup for future books in the series.
As my 10-year-old is in the target age range, I’ll have to see what he thinks of it (when he finishes the Harry Potter book he’s reading now).