Friday, October 7, 2011

Polly Shulman

The Grimm Legacy
by Polly Shulman
Recommended Ages: 12+

Elizabeth has always had a soft spot for fairy tales. Maybe her own Cinderella-like situation has something to do with that. But her research paper on the Brothers Grimm leads her social studies teacher to recommend her for a job as a page at the New York Circulating Material Repository, a kind of library where people can check out historical artifacts rather than books; and there, in the basement, filed under "Special Collections," is a closely-guarded collection of the actual magic objects described by the Brothers Grimm. So Elizabeth's mental habit of being prepared for magic to happen might really pay off!

Before Elizabeth is allowed to try on the glass slippers, and so on, she must first pass some additional tests. She learns to find items requested by patrons, and to put returns back where they belong. She begins to master the Repository's low-tech communication system (pneumatic tubes!) and proves herself reliable enough to learn the password to the Grimm Collection.

But trouble is already brewing. Trouble worse than the basketball star from Elizabeth's school borrowing the Seven-League Boots to fly his little brother to the babysitter between practice and work. Someone is sucking the magic out of the pieces in the collection. Or rather, someone is stealing the real items and replacing them with weakly-enchanted fakes. The Repository is about to shut down access to the collection for good. And Elizabeth can't let that happen, not when her sense of direction has been pledged for the return of a mermaid's shell-comb. And most certainly not when some of her best friends have been snatched by magical villains.

Elizabeth and her fellow pages make an interesting team, bound together by criss-crossing romantic interests and divided by teenage jealousies and suspicions. The magic of first love gets mixed into the fairy tale mash-up while a shrink ray, a giant bird, a bossy little sister and an even littler brother, a piece of knotted string, and a snarky talking mirror each play a pivotal role. It's all lots of fun, with laughter and warmth, a few shivers and shudders, and a quirky inventiveness in its approach to fairy tale, fantasy, horror, and sci-fi gimmicks. (Wouldn't you like to see the Bradbury Bequest? Meanwhile, you wouldn't love to visit the Lovecraft room. Trust me!) With her friends, her sense of direction, and quite possibly her firstborn on the line, Elizabeth runs amazing magical and emotional risks. But it's all in a day's magic in this charming adventure from the author of a Pride and Prejudice spoof titled Enthusiasm.

No comments: