Written by: Michael Buckley
For parents of independent readers, we provide a set of questions that should give you insight into what your child is reading and help you engage him/her in meaningful conversations about literature. We recommend using the questions provided here as a springboard for deeper conversation about The Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detectives (Book One) and what your child takes away from the book. Enjoy!
When this story opens, Sabrina and Daphne Grimm are getting sent to yet another foster home. The problem with this new foster home is it supposedly belongs to a grandmother of theirs that has been dead for many years. Or so they thought. Sabrina is incredibly skeptical at first, while her younger sister Daphne is quick to trust Granny Relda and go along with her charades. As the story unfolds, they discover that they are related to the Brothers Grimm, and that the brothers' book of fairytales is actually a history book documenting all of the fairy tale creatures that have existed. They also learn that Granny Relda is a detective who works to solve mysteries pertaining to both humans and Everafters (fairytale creatures). Sabrina and Daphne soon find themselves on a case involving a dangerous giant who has been let loose on the town, and it is their job to find out who let it loose and stop it. The first installment in The Sisters Grimm series, The Sisters Grimm: The Fairytale Detectives (Book One), provides a new and refreshing look at fairytales, enabling children to learn what happened after the Brothers Grimm set down their pens.
Create a K-W-L Chart and have your child fill in the first two columns with information that s/he knows and wants to find out about the story. S/he can fill in the last column, "What I Learned", once s/he has finished the story.
What I Know
After reading the description on the back cover, let your child think about the fairytales that s/he has already read or heard about. S/he can list the fairytales and think about any qualities that they may share. Encourage him/her to describe what s/he sees on the cover that will tell him/her more about the story.
What I Want to Know
Include questions like, "Who are the Sisters Grimm? Why is there a giant destroying their new hometown? How did they become detectives? What characters will this story hold?"
Maintain a Vocabulary Journal
Encourage your child to stop when s/he gets to an unfamiliar word. See if s/he can discover its meaning by using context clues (the words surrounding it) or by analyzing word parts such as prefixes and suffixes. Be sure to keep a “Vocabulary Journal” nearby when reading so that your child can write down new words, that s/he has either already defined or wishes to look up in the dictionary.
- Where is this story set? How would you describe the setting? Would you want to live in this town? Why or why not?
- Sabrina and Daphne find Mr. Canis to be a very peculiar man. What is his secret identity? What are some of the clues given throughout the story of his true identity?
- Mayor Charming doesn't make a very good first impression. How would you describe his character? Is this similar to or different from how you remember his character in the fairytale? Why do you think he was elected as Mayor? Do you think another character would be better suited for this role? If so, who? Why would they be better?
- What are some things that make Granny Relda's home different from a normal house? What do Sabrina and Daphne find there? What is the secret to unlocking her front door?
- What are the common themes (central topics or lessons learned) in most fairytales? Personal sacrifice and appearances vs. reality are two examples of common themes in fairytales. Can you find any of these themes in this story? If so, how are they demonstrated?
- How did Jack fool Sabrina and Daphne? Why did he let the giant loose in the first place?
- Check out the "Guide To Fairy Tales and The Sisters Grimm" section in the back of the book. It includes some supplementary information about fairytales and the Sisters Grimm, as well as a fairy tales smarts test.
- Write your own version of a fairytale! You can choose to pick a story that was mentioned in this book or not. Either way, take a fairytale character and write a new story about him/her. Maybe you want to write about how Rapunzel became a hair stylist or how Ariel came to teach music to children. Look over the new words that you wrote in your Vocabulary Journal and try to incorporate a few of them into your story.
- Looking to read one of the Brothers' Grimm stories? National Geographic has a collection of their most famous fairytales. Be cautious, as some of their stories can be quite dark and violent.
Above all, be sure to engage your child in a discussion about the plot line and his/her thoughts and feelings about the book. Ask what s/he likes, encourage exploration related to the book, and every now and again, offer to read parts of the book aloud, just for fun!