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***The Brothers Grimm

Two Lives, One Legacy

by Donald Hettinga

Reviewed March 9, 2002.
Clarion Books, 2001.  180 pages.

I’m not sure if a child would enjoy this book, but I found it fascinating.  Is it that I have a short attention span that I’m finding children’s nonfiction so enjoyable these days?  I didn’t touch the stuff when I was a child myself.  My own theory is that the quality of children’s nonfiction has increased tremendously in the past decade.  Indeed, if I compare today’s books, lavishly illustrated with photographs, with some of our older library books and their black and white line drawings, I’m not so surprised that I like them better now.

I didn’t know much about the Brothers Grimm, but we had once taken a vacation along the “Fairy Tale Road” here in Germany and seen many of the places mentioned in this book.  For much of their lives, they lived near the castle at Wilhelmshoehe in Kassel, which has one of the most beautiful castle grounds I have ever seen.

The Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, were famous for much more than their fairy tales.  Their range of scholarly works are impressive, and they even became famous in their lifetimes for their political views.  They lived through a turbulent time in German history, one I didn’t know much about.  So I found this story intriguing.

The book seemed wonderfully well-researched, and was written in a simple and engaging style.  An interesting and informative book.  I own copies of Grimms’ Fairy Tales in German and in English.  (I bought them in German when visiting Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Sababurg on the Fairy Tale Road.)  I’m hoping that this book will motivate me to get busy reading them again.  I will bring new appreciation to them, understanding that the brothers weren’t trying to create interesting and embellished tales.  They were trying to record the oral traditions of Germany before they were lost.

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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