Book info

The Fairy-Tale Detectives (2005)

The Fairy-Tale Detectives (2005)
Rating
3.98 of 5 Votes: 1
ISBN
0810959259 (ISBN13: 9780810959255)
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English
publisher
amulet books
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The Fairy-Tale Detectives (2005)
The Fairy-Tale Detectives (2005)

About book: I love fairy tales! Any wonder that when I spied The Fairy Tale Detectives at my local library, I had to borrow it. The book is the first in a series called The Sisters Grimm. With there being six more books in the set, I'd have my reading set for a month. Unfortunately, my love of fairy tales is what left me less than happy with this book.The book's first chapter reminded of the popular The Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket, both in set up and tone. The Grimms' sisters are orphans and their parents have either disappeared or been murdered basically, they are out of the picture. Naturally, this makes the girls sad. There are two of them: Sabrina who is twelve and Daphne who is seven. Sabrina actually acts more angry than sad, thus fitting the cliché of adopted children who run away from every foster parent. As for her younger sister Daphne, she inquires about the meaning of words and so readers learn new words.From this point onward, the story diverges from The Unfortunate Events series, in that it is about a fairy tale community. Like stereotyped orphaned siblings, the two have been bonded closer together due to their having only each other. Sabrina is especially protective, rejecting the arrival of yet another foster parent, even when Daphne accepts that this newest is really their grandmother. Moreover, the family is distant relations of the famous Grimm brothers and are citizens of Ferryport Landing, which is home to many of our beloved fairy tale characters.Initially, I waffled in my reaction to The Fairy Tale Detectives. Details or the lack of can make or break a story. Michael Buckley effectively uses enough of them to enrich his book. The passage about how Sabrina rushed home with a "report card safely tucked in her raincoat" moved me. Elsewhere are also scattered other details such as "a small frog jumped from his shirt" and "a delivery truck filled with chickens" that work equally well in visualizing the scene.In the midst of these details however were suspense scenes that I often skimmed because they were confusing to reading. They reminded me of the madcap action scenes in movies that are thrown at viewers left and right, whether or not any of them makes sense. The attacks were difficult to follow, involved heroines who kept screaming and running, along with other characters who switched from being bad to good without reason. These scenes were painful to me, which is not what one wants in an escapism book.Quirkiness or lack of can liven or deaden a story. Therefore, I appreciated the oddball foster parents: Mrs. Longdon who swore her toilet was haunted, Mr. Dennison who made the girls sleep in his truck, the Johnsons who handcuffed them to his radiator, and the Keatons who locked the girls in their house for two weeks to go on vacation. I also enjoyed reading about all the weird foods the girls' grandmother cooked for them including black noodles made out of squid ink and the meatballs with purple gravy. At times though, the quirkiness seemed overdone such as car with rope for seatbelts or the clothes that everyone except the girls' new guardian considered strange. What however is so odd about orange sweatshirts decorated with monkeys or blue pants designed with hearts and balloons?Michael Buckley seems to know and admire fairy tales. In the back of The Fairy Tale Detectives are several pages about the real fairy tales, the real Grimm brothers, and even a fun quiz to test one's knowledge. Throughout the book itself, he also included references to titles of made up historical books, along with appearances of popular fairy tale characters, and even usage of fairy tale tools such as the beans that grow beanstalks for giants, Aladdin's magic carpet, the magic mirror from Snow White, King Arthur's enchanted sword, and the fairy godmother's magical wand.The problem though with writing about beloved fairy tale characters is that some of us want to hear only one truth about them, the one that we grew up reading about all our lives. Who wants our cherished childhood toys to turn evil? Or our favorite storybook characters such as Dorothy, Doctor Doolittle, or Charlotte to act anything but nice? Not me! For that reason, I felt upset that Buckley turned Jack the Giant Killer and Prince Charming into despicable individuals. On the flip side, who wants our hated villains to turn evil? Do we want the Wicked Witch or Captain Hook acting sweet? For that reason, I also felt upset about some of the evil characters from fairy tales that Buckley chose to convert.I wish I could recommend The Fairy Tale Detectives. It is entertaining and fairly well written. For awhile, I even felt tempted to read the rest of the series. Yet I have never cared for movies that substantially rewrite a book when bringing to the big screen. And I dislike just as much having my favorite fairy tale characters being portrayed as differently than in the original stories. Furthermore, I wouldn't want this book to be the first introduction one has to fairy tale characters. So, should you choose to read this series, please proceed with caution.

How do you write a successful young adult story? The recipe is simple: one or more orphaned children (both incredibly talented and kind), a crazy relative they’ve never met, a strange town full of weird and crazy people, and a plethora of magical and mythical creatures. Thousands of young adult books follow this pattern to a T--The Sisters Grimm is no exception. It is quite possibly one of the most predictable book I’ve ever read. The plot is completely overused--orphans Sabrina and Daphne Grimm are sent to live with their Grandma, who is allegedly dead, and her thin ominous butler. They get to their new home, notice a bunch of odd books and trinkets and are forbidden to enter one of the rooms in the house. Grandma lays down a whole list of rules they must follow--most of which are complete nonsense. Coincidentally, their Grandma is a personal detective and they get to go on cases with her and the butler. In the middle of their first case, Grandma is abducted by a Giant and leaves the girls to fend for themselves. It is now the girls job to rescue her and save the town from mythical creatures. The exact plot of getting thrust into a life-altering situation used in almost every teen novel. I bought this book a while ago with some birthday money on a whim. I believe that three or four years ago I would have actually enjoyed The Sisters Grimm. As for now, however, I find it much too predictable and unusually bland. The characters are typical and it feels like I’ve read the plot a hundred times over. I would recommend this to middle school students because I believe the plot would be enough for them, as well as it contains some new and challenging vocab atypical to books of this genre. It is also able to teach kids who read the tale that sometimes in life you have to stick with what you believe in and not care what others think--a prime lesson kids of that age group will benefit from. I would not recommend it to anyone over the age of 14 as I will not be reading anymore into this series myself, but I will be suggesting it to some of my younger friends.
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Reviews
Bonnie Gayle
This was a playful and fun book, with a few flaws.Sabrina and Daphne's parents disapear one day out of the blue, and the police can't find them. They bounce from one horrible foster home to another, until an old lady comes forward claiming to be their Grandmother. This is weird, because their parents told them their Grandmother was dead. When they meet her, she tells them that they are descended from The Brother's Grimm, who wrote down true events that occured with real creatures. All of these creatures have now moved to America, and live in the town that they are now in. It is the Grimm's family job to keep these fairy tale creatures in line, which is a big job.One thing that really bugged me was that the story is told through Sabrina's pov, and she spends the first 100 pages doubting everything and being a brat. I think the story would have been a lot more enjoyable if it had been told through Daphne's pov. She's a sweet girl, and it would have made it a much better story. There are also several flaws. The most glaring one is that the Grimm's, generations ago, bonded the fairy tale creatures to the one town, but the catch was that they bonded themselves there too. If the Grimm's can't leave that town, how did Sabrina and Daphne's father move to NYC, and how did they live there themselves? It's never explained. Another flaw is how many story creatures this town has. Okay, there are the Grimm creatures, and Hans Christian Anderson, and the Wizard of Oz, and Alice in Wonderland, and Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream, but then later on in the story, King Arthur shows up. At some point the author has to draw a line, before it becomes every creature from every story, and not just fairy tale creatures.Overall it was a fun, original, fractured take on the fairy tales. There were jokes that rewarded you for having read the fairy tales, and also from these creatures having to interact with the modern world. The kind of humor you would find in Jasper Fforde's stories, and that I particularly like. It also has a good plot, with a twist at the end that I really didn't expect, which I find very rarely in books on the junior side of the library. On top of that, it's a cute little book, with pages about the size of my hand:) It's a shame that the flaws were so glaring and detracted from an otherwise really cute book. There's a second in the series, and I'm definitely going to read it. I bet it will be a lot more enjoyable now that Sabrina is not doubting everything around her!
Rosa
This was a great tween read. Daphne and Sabrina's parents disappeared last year and since then they have been bounced from bad foster parent to worse foster parent, until the day their grandmother claims them. The girls are shocked because their father told them their grandfather had died. The girls find out they are descendents of the original brothers Grimm and that fairy tale creatures and characters are alive and well in Ferryport Landing in upstate New York. The Grimm family acts as keepers for the town, solving mysteries and keeping an eye on the fairy tales. The fairy tales are bound to the town as long as there is one member of the Grimm family remains there. I loved Daphne. She doesn't really let things get her down and has a great sense of natural curiosity. Sabrina is bossy and comes across and a bitter little pain in the butt, but honestly that would be a natural consequence of her experience over the past year and a half. Most of the other characters weren't as well developed in this volume. I am hoping we will learn more about them in other books.The plot was interesting and there was a twist at the end, that I wont spoil.
Drebbles
After the mysterious disappearance of their parents, 11-year-old Sabrina Grimm and her 7-year-old sister, Daphne, are sent to a succession of foster homes. Their luck seems to change when they are sent to live with someone claiming to be their grandmother, but Sabrina is suspicious since her father had led her to believe her grandparents were all dead. She is further suspicious when her grandmother tells her that they are related to the Brothers Grimm of fairy tale fame. Not only that, but she tells them that fairy tales are not make believe, but history books and the characters are real and living right there in town. Naturally, Sabrina doesn't believe a word of it, until she sees with her own eyes that fairy tales can come true. This was a truly delightful fantasy. Michael Buckley deftly weaves many fairy tales into the book from the Three Little Pigs to the Magic Mirror on the Wall to the Wizard of Oz. He's taken one of the standard fairy tale characters, Prince Charming, and turned him into a vain, yet very funny character. Buckley has a nice touch with words that will help adults enjoy this book as well as children. His touch is subtle, yet humorous, as when he describes parking valets as "hulking attendants with green skin and oversized muscles". Sabrina and Daphne are delightful, resourceful and brave. Buckley's take on the various fairy tale characters and their personalities is quite interesting and readers will never look at fairy tales such as Jack and the Beanstalk in quite the same way after reading this book. Readers young and old will love this book.
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