Adventures in Reading

Michael Buckley’s The Sisters Grimm: Magic & Other Misdemeanors
December 16, 2007, 12:06 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized
“I’m sure this could be seen as child abuse,” Sabrina groaned as she pulled a pillow over her head. She wondered how many children had grandmothers who woke them up by standing over their beds banging a metal pot with a spoon. She peeked out at the old woman. Granny Relda looked like a member of the world’s most annoying marching band.” – Michael Buckley’s Magic & Other Misdemeanors

I do not often read children’s literature, but often wish I spent more time doing so. Particularly books designed for children ages eight through twelve have some particularly charming plots. Authors for this age range tend to stick with simple and meaningful themes such as patience, family, and the importance of younger siblings. Michael Buckley’s Sister Grimm series has been my children’s literature indulgence over the past year as a result of word of mouth and my own love for all things myth, folklore, and fairy tale related. It is a charming series punctuated by wonderful illustrations by Peter Ferguson, and I must commend Buckley for taking his fifth book in the series – Magic & Other Misdemeanors – to an entirely different place than the proceeding stories.

I posted once before about my initial reaction to the first fourteen pages, and in retrospect I hope nothing sounded too harsh or condemning. (One of the downsides of not having home Internet access is that there is little chance I can return to my posts 30-minutes later and be bewildered at what I actually wrote versus what I thought I wrote!) I was pleasantly surprised and quite taken as the previous two stories seemed to drag, but this latest work takes the sister detectives to entirely new places or should I say times. In the prior books, the sisters solved some rather incredible fairy tale cases, but now Sabrina and Daphne have quite the plot of danger and intrigue set before them: what happens when a glimpse into Ferry Port Landing’s future promises a frightening world where everything is ran by crazed fairy tale characters?

This glimpse into a tear of time encourages the Grimms to take action and change the present before they are doomed to this future. However, the novel concludes on a rather dastardly point, which perhaps implies that any actions are futile. All I want to know – when is the next book coming out? The usual cliffhanger Buckley ends on is more sensational than ever and I wait in great anticipation to read more of the Sisters Grimm. I have remarked on a few reasons why I like the series, such as having two strong female leads or the fairy tale nature of the stories, and Buckley is one of my favorite recommendations to give at work, but I have discovered my own folly and that is I seldom suggest these books for boys.

There seems to have been a recent spurt in genderizing literature, and while this is absolutely not new it still seems strange in how welcomed the move seems and how unquestioning most people are about it. It seems every other children’s book that is coming out is either marketed specifically for boys or specifically for girls, and while The Sisters Grimm may describe the adventures of two sisters there is nothing a boy cannot enjoy from the series. This afternoon I had a woman shopping for her son-in-law and she wanted recommendations for suspense novels, but she turned down every one of my suggestions because the lead in the books (and this was entirely accidental on my part) were women. She confessed that some men were simply a bit chauvinistic, but I find that a poor excuse and will in the future try my best to discourage such behavior.

However, as it seems I am going to have to wait a good deal of time to find out what exactly happens, I plan on turning to some other children’s classics that I have never managed to finish. While I usually try not to play too far ahead into my reading future I have put Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows on my must read for January list.

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