Week 5: The Grimm Legacy

Book summary: Elizabeth Rew seems to be living the Cinderella life: she’s invisible to her father, her stepmother treats her like a second-class citizen, her stepsisters want to share only what is hers, and she’s an outsider at her school. And yet, Elizabeth Rew is still kind. That kindness lands her a job at the New York Circulating Material Repository, a rather unique collection with equally unique users. There are beautiful hair combs and historical hats and hand woven rugs. There are decorative spoons and delicate headdresses and antique globes. But Elizabeth’s life quickly gets interesting when she is asked to return a pair of boots to the Grimm Collection. One of the “special” collections, the Grimm items seem to be modeled after items from fairy tales, until Elizabeth discovers they ARE the items from fairy tales. And someone is willing to do anything to get their hands on them.

My impressions: This book has filled some of the empty space left with the end of the Harry Potter series. I needed my magic back! I would love to work in a place like the New York Circulating Material Repository. I have always felt that perhaps tellers of folk tales, such as the Grimms, might be privy to information the rest of us aren’t. It’s just too tantalizing to think of magic (or vampires, or werewolves, or fairies, or aliens, or…) existing in a world behind or alongside our own. I also like Elizabeth – she’s kind and spunky, despite feeling like an outsider in her home. Even though she’s smitten with Marc, she’s still nice to Anjali when some girls might freeze her out. And I always have a soft spot for the teachers – the Professor McGonagalls and Mr. Brunners and Mr. Mauskopfs – who guide the heroes and heroines through their magical journeys, giving support but rarely answers.

Citation: Shulman, P. (2010). The Grimm legacy. New York, NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Professional Review:

When Elizabeth takes a job as a page at the New-York Circulating Material Repository, a lending library for objects instead of books, she’s let in on the repository’s secret. Housed in the basement is the Grimm Collection, an assortment of items such as seven-league boots and spinning wheels that are normally found in fairy tales—amazingly, the items (and the magic) are real. But sotneone’s been removing the materials and replacing them with nonmagica! replicas, and Elizabeth doesn’t know which of her fellow pages to trust; Marc, the handsome basketball star who’s been taking liberties with his borrowing privileges; Anjali, who has all the male pages at her feet; or sullen Aaron, who resents the others’ looks and good fortune. Tracking down the thief will take all four of them on a dangerous quest, where they will need their wits and the objects in the collection to succeed. Shulman combines down-to-earth teens concerned with fitting in with a wonderfully occult magical world—the repository itself, with its stained-glass windows, miles of stacks, and pneumatic tubes for routing call slips, permeates the story with its musty, mysterious presence. The pages must figure out how to work with objects that sometimes function in tricky ways (the magic mirror, for instance, tells the truth but in the most slanted and unflattering manner possible). But just as in a fairy tale, Elizabeth’s good choices and kind heart allow the story to spin out to a happy conclusion…”

Burkam, A. L. (May 15, 2010). The Grimm Legacy [Review of]. Horn Book Magazine, 86(4), 121-122.

Library use: I would use this book for a Tween/YA Book Club selection. Some topics for discussion could be: Which of the Grimm objects would you like to use? What would you be willing to trade to use a Grimm object? How would you handle being asked to keep a secret from your employer, by your coworkers? What other special collections would you have if you ran the library?

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