Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detectives...random thoughts

The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley (first in the The Sisters Grimm series).

I think I'm probably like a lot of people, in that I'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite "section" in the book store or library. I love the history section, and the science section, and the fantasy/sci-fi section, and the young adult know how it is, right? But I have reached the conclusion that up there among my favorites has to be the section designated for readers 8-12. You know, I think I may even enjoy these books more than young adult books. Not sure what this says about me...I'd like to think that it means I'm young at heart, but I'm sure other theories may be equally valid.

I think the first book that totally captivated me from this section (as an adult) was Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett. Then there was Inkheart, by Cornelia Funke. Recently, I fell hard for Horns & Wrinkles by Joseph Helgerson. And now, there's The Fairy-Tale Detectives. Oh my, how this little book charmed me!

Sabrina, age 11, and Daphne, age 7, have spent the last year and a half bouncing back and forth from an orphanage to various foster homes. No one really knows what happened to their parents; they simply disappeared without a trace. The orphanage recently found their grandmother living in a small town by the name of Ferryport Landing, New York, and is delivering the girls to stay with her.

Relda Grimm is a sweet, eccentric old lady. Daphne is immediately smitten with her grandmother, while Sabrina is immediately suspicious. Daphne, after so much time in foster homes, is so anxious for love that she throws caution to the wind. And Sabrina, the big sister and protector, has learned that it isn't safe to trust anyone. And she has more than adequate reason for suspicion this time, as the girls had grown up believing their grandmother was dead.

As the story unfolds, we learn why their father had chosen to lie to them in this way. And why their grandmother wasn't able to come and get the girls before now. And many, many, many other secrets of the town of Ferryport Landing and its residents.

It probably hasn't escaped your notice that the family's surname is Grimm, has it? And yes, that is because they are descendants of the Brothers Grimm. Specifically, Sabrina and Daphne are Wilhelm Grimm's great-great-great-great-granddaughters. And you know that book of fairy tales? Well, they aren't really fairy tales at all! The stories they collected are's real-life history!

But long ago, due to the changing face of the planet and the cruelties of man, these fairy tale creatures, who prefer to be called Everafters, were forced to move to a little area in New York. Baba Yaga then put a spell on the area to make sure that no Everafter could leave and thus jeopardize the survival of the others. The Grimms made the journey with the Everafters and have lived there ever since. Granny Relda continues to record history as it happens, and often finds herself playing detective when things go awry in Ferryport Landing.

Soon after the girls arrive, Granny and her faithful companion, Mr. Canis, are kidnapped by a giant, and it falls on Sabrina and Daphne to solve the mystery and save their grandmother.

There wasn't much about this book that I didn't find perfectly delightful! From the surprising ways Mr. Buckley interpreted some of the well-known fairy tale characters, like Prince Charming, and the Three Little Pigs, and my personal favorite, Mirror. To the way he made the girls so believable. For instance, when the girls were riding on the train with the sour woman from the orphanage...

"Do they have bagels in Ferryport Landing, Ms. Smirt?" Daphne now asked the woman sitting across from them. Ms. Minerva Smirt was the girls' caseworker. She was a pinch-lipped, humorless woman in her late fifties. She had had her hooked nose buried in a book for the entire train ride. Sabrina knew she was reading only so she wouldn't have to talk to them. Ms. Smirt looked up at Daphne with an annoyed scowl and sighed as if the question was more than she could bear.

"Of course they have bagels. They have bagels everywhere," Ms. Smirt snapped.

"Not on the moon," Daphne replied matter-of-factly as she returned her gaze to the window.

I can so easily picture Gray, also aged 7, replying in the exact same manner. Not trying to be a smart-mouth, just pointing out the obvious-to-him error in something one says.

What more can I say? I just so loved this little tale, and I'm really looking forward to reading the rest of the series. I certainly can't guarantee that this book will enchant others the way it enchanted me, but if you're looking for some light, fun, fanciful reading, this book might be just what the doctor ordered.


If you've also reviewed this book, feel free to leave a link in the comments, and I'll add it here. Thanks.

Becky at Becky's Book Reviews


Read for:

The Once Upon a Time II Challenge.

The 1st in a Series Challenge.


Anonymous said...

Oh wow - I haven't heard of this one! Going now to see if I can located a copy for Nona.

Becky said...

I love this series. I do. Buckley is great :)

Rebecca said...

I think I enjoy reading books meant for the preteen set just as much as books for Old People,too :) I really enjoyed The Sisters Grimm books. I think it was your Annie who drew them to my attention originally :)

Chris said...

The 8-12 section is one of my favorites too :/ I've been wanting to read this series for awhile, but I've been on the fence about it at the same time not entirely convinced that I'd enjoy just convinced me that I would :) Not that I need any more books. Maybe I'll see if the library has it! There's an idea...sheesh...

Carl V. said...

I had been wondering about these. They look like such amazing books because of the way they are put together. I am now certainly inclined to give the series a try. I like that section of the bookstore as well...generally when I say something is YA I am actually referring to that section of the bookstore vs. the Teen section. There are so many wonderful, delightful, magical books that come out of that section of the bookstore.

Nymeth said...

I vote young at heart, as well as open-minded, unpretentious and not snobbish in the least, which are some of the reasons why you are your awesome self. I love that section of the bookstore too. And this sounds like such a great series! I'm sure I'll love it. I need to get this book.

Melody said...

No matter if the book is targeted at young children, young adults or long as the book is good and captures my heart, I'll read it!! :)

I've never heard of this one either so I'll definitely check it out.

Dawn said...

What a delightful review! I think I'd like to get that book! Thanks for sharing!!!!!

take care,

Trish said...

Sounds like a lot of fun! It has only been recently that I've started reading more YA fiction and have continually been surprised at how much I like it. It's difficult for me to guess what age range a book belongs to, but I'm always keeping my eye open for books suitable to my brother (12 yo)--I think he'd like this one too. Thanks for the review, Debi.