The Grimm Conclusion

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Once upon a time, fairy tales were grim.

Cinderella’s stepsisters got their eyes pecked out by birds.

Rumpelstiltskin ripped himself in half.

And in a tale called “The Mouse, the Bird, and the Sausage,” a mouse, a bird, and a sausage all talk to each other. Yes, the sausage talks. (Okay, I guess that one’s not that grim…)

Those are the real fairy tales.

But they have nothing on the story I’m about to tell.

This is the darkest fairy tale of all. Also, it is the weirdest. And the bloodiest.

It is the grimmest tale I have ever heard.

And I am sharing it with you.

Two children venture through forests, flee kingdoms, face ogres and demons and monsters, and, ultimately, find their way home. Oh yes, and they may die. Just once or twice.

That’s right. Fairy tales



Once upon a time, fairy tales were grim.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word grim as “ghastly, repellent, or sinister in character.” Their example of how to use the word is this: “agrim tale.” (Really! It says that!)

Once upon a time, fairy tales were Grimm, too. That is, they were collected by the brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm.

You know the tales of the Brothers Grimm.

For example, raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of a story called “Little Red Riding Hood.”

You haven’t?

Oh, you have. Then why aren’t you raising your hand? Go ahead and raise it. I don’t care how stupid you look, sitting in the corner of the library by yourself, or on the school bus, or in bed at night, raising your hand for no apparent reason. How else am I supposed to know whether you’ve read “Little Red Riding Hood”?

Raise it.

Thank you.

Okay, raise your hand if you’ve heard of “Hansel and Gretel.”

Do it.


Raise your hand if you’ve heard of “Rumpelstiltskin.” (I assume you’re raising your hand.)

“Sleeping Beauty.” (Your hand’s still up, right?)

“Snow White.” (Of course you have.)

“Cinderella.” (Your hand better still be in the air.)

But now you’re thinking: Wait a minute. You said fairy tales used to be grim—i.e., ghastly, repellent, sinister. These stories aren’t ghastly, repellent, or sinister at all. They are cute, and sweet, and boring.

And, I must admit, these days you are correct. The versions of these stories that most people tell are indeed cute and sweet and incredibly, mind-numbingly, want-to-hit-yourself-in-the-head-with-a-sledgehammer-ingly boring.

But the original fairy tales were not.

Take “Rumpelstiltskin,” for example. You may know “Rumpelstiltskin” as a funny little tale about a funny little man with a funny not-all-that-little name.

But do you remember what happens at the end of that funny little story? The girl guesses his name, right? And he gets very angry. And do you remember what happens then?


Well, in some versions of the story, Rumpelstiltskin stamps his foot and flies out the window.

Which makes no sense. Who has ever stamped their foot and suddenly gone flying out of a window?


In other versions of the story, he stamps his foot and shatters into a thousand pieces. This is even more ridiculous than him flying out of a window. People don’t shatter. People are fleshy and bloody and gooey.Shatter is not something that people do.

So what actually happens when the girl guesses Rumpelstiltskin’s name? In the real, Grimm version of the story?

Well, he stamps his foot so hard that it gets buried three feet in the ground. Then he grabs his other leg, and he pulls up on it with such force that herips himself in half.

Which, it must be admitted, is indeed ghastly, repellent, sinister—and awesome.

The story I am about to tell you is like that, too.

It is Grimm. And grim.

In fact, it is the grimmest, Grimmest tale that I have ever heard.

And I am sharing it with you.

Yeah. You’re welcome.

More Information
ISBN 9780142427361
Author Adam Gidwitz
Number of Pages 344
Reading Level 4.3
Publisher Penguin Random House
Book Dimensions 8 x 5 in.
Shipping Weight .65 lbs
Special Price $6.50
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