The Problem Child is the third Sisters Grimm book in a series of [runs off to check]…nine. Really? Nine? Holy crap, I should have checked into this before I got The Boy all into them.
Okay, so I talked a little bit here about why I’m reading these, and the ARDUOUS PACE my 13y/o is setting for me. He doesn’t cut me any slack when it comes to these, because he hasn’t yet picked up his mother’s bad habit of having eleventy billion books going at once.
So what did I do all day today? I finished this book, of course, so that I can be ahead of him and have a little breathing room when it comes to the schedule he’s set for us.
I guess all of that is really neither here nor there, though. For those of you that are too lazy to click that link up there, The Sisters Grimm is a series of books by Michael Buckley, and it bears a striking resemblance to the television series Once Upon a Time. There’s a town (in the books it’s in New York, in the series, it’s in Maine) full of all the faerie tale creatures/people we know from the works of Grimm, Lang, Andersen, Baum, etc.
In the first book, we met Sabrina and Daphne Grimm, sisters whose parents disappeared one stormy night, and since then they’ve been bouncing around through the system, moving from orphanage to orphanage, foster home to foster home…until their social worker finds a grandmother they didn’t even know they had.
Sabrina (11) has a difficult time accepting the fact that Relda Grimm is really their grandmother, her father hasn’t ever mentioned his parents, after all – she has an even harder time accepting the notion that Ferryport Landing is a “safe haven” for faerie tale creatures, and that the Grimms are basically in charge of keeping them out of the way of humanity.
Things happen, and the girls learn that their parents aren’t really dead (of course). The long arc is Sabrina and Daphne trying to bring them home. The books follow the monster of the week format, in the first it’s Jack (he of the beanstalks), in the second it’s Rumplestiltskin…but in the third it’s Little Red Riding Hood.
I was rather meh about this series up until this third book. They were cute, and I appreciated how many of the details Buckley got right, but I was also very aware that I was reading a series for children.
The Problem Child, though – it goes beyond “cute” and starts to deal with topics like mental illness and addiction. Heady stuff for a younger crowd. But it’s handled deftly and without a lot of finger pointing and shaming. I really liked that we were made to understand exactly WHY our villain went ’round the bend, and I think it was done in such a way that even VERY YOUNG readers will understand and sympathize. Addiction is handled in a similar manner (in this instance, it’s an addiction to magic) and consequences are very clearly shown, as is how it can be made to seem alluring.
No, of course it won’t replace talking to your kids about such things, but if you’ve already had a discussion on the topic, this can reinforce it – similarly, it might be a good way to bring the subject UP if you haven’t already.
I have to admit, after finishing The Unusual Suspects last week, I wasn’t in much of a hurry to continue the series (I am still hoping to get the kid into my books of faerie tales, but I think it’ll have to wait for now) – but I’m very much looking forward to picking up Once Upon a Crime later this week.
(Also, I LOVED what happened with The Little Mermaid in this book. That’s all I’m sayin’.)