Adventures in Reading

The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley
December 13, 2007, 5:49 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Earlier in the year a popular requested author at work was Michael Buckley, and it seemed everyone was interested in his Sisters Grimm series. Since then I have read the first four books and I have finally gotten around to the latest edition Magic and Other Misdemeanors. While reading the previous four I noticed that the books seemed to grow progressively weaker, but that could also simply be the result of reading too many of one author’s books at once.

While I am already only fourteen pages in I am at a point of great indecision with this book. Before I get ahead of myself allow me to explain the basis of the series: two sisters discover they are descended from the brothers Grimm, and along with a zany [1] cast of characters they run a sort of fairy tale detective agency. The idea on the whole is cute and it is also one of the few fantasy books for ages eight and up that offers a primary focus on two heroines.

So what am I indecisive or unsettled about? First, usually Buckley clearly states the folktales, myths, and fairy tales that he is referencing. However, this is the first time I noticed what appears to be references to modern tales of fantasy, but this is not referenced. When discussing “the black, gaping hole” or “What could any of them do to stop themselves, and soon the rest of the world, from being sucked into nothingness?” and I can only assume he is referencing Ende’s The Neverending Story where the Great Nothing of nihilism threatens the world.

Secondly, Buckley discusses “God” almost immediately and if my memory is correct this is the first mention of “God” in any of his novels. While there is nothing specifically bad about this, Buckley has for a long time been a favorite author for me to refer to customers at work, and part of my unwavering faith in suggesting him is that I have never had to earnestly consider on a customer to customer basis whether or not this would be appropriate. Not to say that “God” is inappropriate, but not every customer may want to purchase a book for a child that has religious tones in it.

And third, and practically the same as my first qualm, on page 14 the sisters stumble onto a group of chimpanzees and the docile chimpanzees turn on them when the sisters refer to them as “monkeys.” If that does not have Terry Pratchett written all over it I do not know what does!

So, are these huge issues? No, not particularly. But it does make me consider how an author treats references to other works of literature (and of course one could make the argument that Buckley is referring to neither Ende or Pratchett), and how do you suggest to customers and specifcally to children?

[1] Yes, zany is the only appropriate word.

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