Friday, March 16, 2007

Shoes, Toys, and Cookies: The Elvish Handcraft Tradition

Buckley, Michael. 2005. The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-tale Detectives. Pictures by Peter Ferguson.

The dense forest branches scratched at their faces and arms, but Sabrina and Daphne couldn't stop running, though they had long since passed the point of exhaustion. Fear was fueling each step now. Another thunderous bellow rang in the distance, followed by the terrible sound of falling trees and shrieking animals.
"We have to find a way to stop it," Daphne cried between gasps. Sabrina knew her little sister was right. But how? They were two children versus a vicious monster.
"I'll think of something," Sabrina said, dragging her sister behind an enormous oak tree for a much-needed rest. Sabrina squeezed her sister's hand to reassure her, while she forced oxygen into her burning lungs. Her words were empty. She didn't have a plan. The only thing going on in her head was the thumping of blood roaring through her eardrums. But it made no difference. It had found them. Splintering wood and damp soil rained from the sky as the tree they stood next to was violently uprooted. The two girls looked up into the horrible face above them and felt hot breath blow through their skin. What's happened to our lives? Sabrina wondered. When had their world become unrecognizable? And what had happened to her, the eleven-year-old girl who only two days ago had been just an orphan on a train?

Sabrina and Daphne are young sisters with a legacy or heritage about to catch up with them. When their parents disappeared over a year ago, the two had been placed into foster care or social services. Bounced from home to home, now the girls are on their final journey to a new home. A mysterious relative has stepped up to claim them. Now Ms. Smirt, their social worker, has only to deliver them to Ferryport Landing and her work will be done.

Smirt had made a mistake when she chose a career with children, Sabrina thought, especially since she didn't seem to like them. Ms. Smirt complained whenever she had to touch their sticky hands or wipe their runny noses, and reading bedtime stories was completely out of the question. She seemed to especially dislike the Grimm sisters and had labeled them rude, uncooperative, and a couple of know-it-alls. So, Sabrina was sure it was Ms. Smirt's personal mission to get the girls out of the orphanage and into a foster home. So far it had failed miserably. She'd sent them to live with people who were usually mean and occasionally crazy, and who had used them as maids, house sitters, or just plain ignored them. But this time she had gone too far. This time Ms. Smirt was sending them to live with a dead woman. (2-3)

This 'dead woman' is their grandmother Grimm. Eccentric, yes. And the environment is odd at best. And their are certain rules the girls will have to adjust to...but it soon becomes least to the reader that this will be a loving, adventure-filled home.

Here is a description of the house beginning with the living room: (can you guess why I like it???)
It was enormous, a much larger room than seemed possible in a cottage so small. Each wall was lined with bookshelves, stuffed with more books than Sabrina had ever seen. Stacks of them also sat on the floor, the tables, and every other surface. A teapot perched precariously on a stack that looked as if it would fall over at any moment. Books were under the couch cushions, under the carpet. Several giant stacks stood in front of an old television, blocking any chance that someone could watch cartoons. On the spines Sabrina read the strangest titles: BIRDS OF OZ, THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN EVIL QUEEN, and SHOES, TOYS, AND COOKIES: THE ELVISH HANDCRAFT TRADITION. Mrs. Grimm led them through another door where a dining room table sat littered with books, open and waiting to be read. Sabrina picked one up and rolled her eyes when she read the title: 365 WAYS TO COOK DRAGON. (15)

And it doesn't take long for the adventures to begin....but I won't spoil them here!!! This is one you'll have to read for yourself.

About the Author:
The Sisters Grimm series is Michael’s first venture into the world of children’s book writing. His mom and dad insist they are proud of him, even if the whole “I’m going to write a book” idea sounded like another one of their son’s poorly thought out money-making schemes he claimed was “life experience.” Michael lives in New York City with his wife Alison and their dog, Daisy.

My Opinion: Loved this one, can't read to read #2 and #3!


Kelly 2:25 PM  

My daughter loves these, Becky!!

Becky 2:39 PM  

So glad to hear it!!! These are the kinds of books I wish I'd had to read growing up. I would have been hooked probably even more than I am as an adult reader. :)

Unknown 8:33 PM  

This has been on my list for a while to read and/or to read with my daughter. Is third grade too young for it?

Becky 8:38 PM  

I don't think third grade is too young especially if you're reading this with her! It's a great series. I love seeing these literary and fairy tale characters pop up into the action. It's just too much fun!

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