Fans of “Jack: The (Fairly) True Tale of Jack and the Beanstalk,” “Rump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Rumpelstiltskin,” and “Red: The (Fairly) True Tale of Red Riding Hood” will adore the latest fractured fairy tale about “Grump: The (Fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” by Liesl Shurtliff.
Borlen, also known as Grump, narrates this tale of underground treasure and above-ground villainy. From the very beginning of his life, Borlen felt drawn to the surface of the earth. Perhaps because he was accidentally born close to the surface, he hated going deep into the dwarf tunnels like the others. All he dreamt about was visiting the surface and exploring. As a lonely bullied child, he found a tiny bat, persuaded his mother to let him keep it, and named it Leaf after a leaf Borlen’s father had given him once.
As a result of his oddity, Borlen didn’t make any friends, and in an attempt to help Borlen, his parents sent him to work in the mines at an early (for dwarves) age. He was bitter because he was the seventh dwarf in a six dwarf team so he ended up doing the work no one else wanted to do. But Borlen ended up finding a way to get to the surface, where the fairy tale story takes place.
Shurtliff doesn’t change Snow White’s backstory; it’s the classic one with an evil stepmother. However, the magic mirror owes as much to Shurtliff’s deft machinations as does Snow’s eventual rescue. The story has memorable characters, beautifully created themes to discuss, and plenty of magic.
The plot is clever and quite fractured, as Shurtliff excels in taking the bare bones of a tale and changing parts, tweaking others, adding twists and humor and other extra ingredients, and ending up with a perfectly plotted tale that will delight readers young and old.
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, the publisher, for review purposes.