What do you do when you’re in the land of the Brothers Grimm? You hike through the Black Forest. You walk through cobblestone streets lined with half-timbered cottages. You wind your way up up up narrow steps into castle turrets. These are exactly the things I found myself doing in Germany last week. In that fantasy setting, Cinderella, Hansel & Gretel, and Snow White seemed like they might be just around the next corner. These are among the most familiar of the Grimms’ characters, but there are so many others.
Jakob and Willhelm Grimm collected and published over 200 folk tales and legends in the early 1800s. Passed down through generations of central Europeans before the Grimms set them in print, the stories have their roots in the Middle Ages and reflect the rugged conditions of that time. The Grimms softened some of the stories to make them more appropriate for children. Still, as originally published by the brothers, the tales are… well, a bit grim. For those who’d rather avoid endings involving a huntsman’s knife or a red-hot oven, there are adaptations in which villains do not meet such gory ends. For some kids (and kids-at-heart) however, the original tales of the Brothers’ Grimm are exciting and hold great appeal. Whatever your preference, there is a volume of Grimms’ tales waiting for you at the library.