The Grimm Legacy, Polly Shulman

Galley– a chapter book that is in pre-publication stages. This is an opportunity for some of the public to find mistakes for the author and get reviews ahead of time so their book can get good press.

Guess what I did for class?

So,  by now The Grimm Legacy has been published (but has been out only this month). My prof apparently gets galleys at conferences she goes to, and she goes to A LOT of conferences.   (Let me brag on my prof for a few: her husband introduced Sciezska at a conference with an introduction she wrote, she met Jerry Spinelli and shared a story about how she got chewed out by speaking about his book Wringer, and she has an opinion on many authors– not only their writings, but their speaking abilities and personalities. I’ve met two authors. I was tongue-tied around them. I may or may not share my accounts of meeting Lauren Winner and Don Miller…) Although the book is now published, I read the galley. That also means I got to read some things that may have changed. I know some of the illustrations were not ready yet (it had notes saying, “Art to come.”) It also kept varying between New York and New-York. I’m not certain if she doesn’t have a clue about hyphens or if it’s meant to be that way or if she got a better editor before publishing. That was really the only thing I had against the book in the galley form.

Synopsis: Elizabeth Rew’s life is a lot like a fairy tale– one at the beginning, not the end. Her mom died, her dad remarried, and her step-family kinda sucks. (Not evil… just sucky.) She had to move from her school and go to one where she feels invisible. Her Social Studies teacher Mr. Mauskopf gives a research assignment, and Elizabeth decides to go with one he put on the suggestion list, Grimm’s fairy tales. It reminded her of better times with her mom. Mauskopf really likes her paper, and calls her in to discuss why she chose the topic and why she liked fairy tales. He offers her an after-school job opportunity at the New York Circulating Material Repository. Kinda like a library, but with stuff.

Dr. Rust, the person in charge of the Repository, gives her a strange interview, asking how often she does the dishes, does she ever break any dishes, and asking her to sort buttons. His freckles seem to move as he examines how she sorts, but he’s pleased with Elizabeth’s sorting process so she gets the job. She meets some of the other pages, Marc Merritt (basketball star who doesn’t know her from school), Anjali Rao (gorgeous sweetheart), and Aaron Rosendorm (senior page, suspicious and arrogant, at least at first impression). The Repository has things like Marie Antoinette’s wig, Lincoln’s hat, and doublets. Aaron tells Elizabeth that often theatre companies borrow things to get ideas for costumes, historians get to look at shoes from different eras, whatever. It’s pretty cool. Elizabeth is told multiple times that they’re glad she’s there, they’ve been short-handed after strange things have happened, like a huge bird following them around and a page disappearing, for example.

Elizabeth keeps hearing about is the Grimm Collection. The Collection has a very hush-hush feeling about it, but Elizabeth asks about it. Dr. Rust tells her that the Grimm brothers were not only historians, but were also into collecting “material culture” that related to their folk and fairy tales. The Grimm Collection is where all the weird stuff is happening– the objects are magical, and some have returned without their magic. It’s a really big mystery, and until they know Elizabeth better, she can’t work in that collection.  Finally, she passes a test that allows her to get a key to work there. Mr. Maustopf gives her a package to give directly to Dr. Rust, and a patron of the library (a creepy antiques dealer) runs into Elizabeth and tries to switch packages, but she doesn’t buy it. She tells Dr. Rust of the situation, who in turn gives her borrowing privileges to the Grimm Collection. And this is when she becomes privy to all the weird stuff that’s happening…

Yeah, I’m just giving you a teaser. My goodness, I was reading a galley. You think I can really give a full synopsis of a book that hasn’t been out very long, much less the version I had was the unpublished one? C’mon! I know I’m big on spoiling, but not with a book that’s weeks old!

Bookworm’s Commentary:
I’m big into fantasy meeting real life stories. They’re easier to follow than flat-out fantasies or sci-fi. It’s hard to get into a brand new world and keep up with the language, etc. (I survived The Hobbit, but Lord of the Rings has too many “world” differences that I had a hard time following it. I’ll try again soon– my husband is almost done with the trilogy and I can’t have him one-up me by reading something I haven’t. Plus I want to be a pain about things not matching up book to movie! J/K, xoxo darling! )

I really enjoyed this book. Most of the stuff was just slightly out of reach of believability– oh yeah, why wouldn’t I borrow the mirror from Snow White– but they build you up to the shock of seeing real things from fairy tales. It’s a story of a high school girl who feels out of place. Elizabeth finds that she fits in among these strange people working with strange objects.  She becomes a hero when things are going their worst. I like a line Aaron uses to describe Elizabeth about how she looks for relationships between objects, “as if, for you, the whole world is alive.”  Another cute aspect of the book is the shift in how Aaron and Elizabeth treat each other.  They overcome their animosity to become partners in crime. Fun to read.

Class Stuff
Grades: one review said ages 9-12; another review said grades 6-9. Ummm?
I think middle schoolers would enjoy this, but I think it depends on the 9 year old. It’s a cute, innocent story and I’d be willing to put it in fifth grade and up.
Grade: A I’ve re-read it in parts already. It’s a fun read, it’s got lots of cross-referencing to Grimm’s tales, which I enjoyed.  And, it’s a library full of historical/fantastic stuff!



Filed under Children's Literature Class, Fantasy, Middle school (6-8)

3 responses to “The Grimm Legacy, Polly Shulman

  1. Pingback: The Grimm Legacy, Polly Shulman– Revisited | Class Bookworm

  2. lily

    what is the evil doll collectors name?

    • Sorry for the late reply— was out of town and couldn’t make it to the library. According to my advanced reader’s copy, Gloria Badwin is her name. I am pretty sure it stays the same in the published version. 🙂

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