The Problem Child
by Michael Buckley
When Wilhelm Grimm emigrated to upstate New York with a shipload of Everafters - the
real, live characters from his histories-cum-fairy tales - not everyone made a
smooth transition. A few, in fact, became dangerously disturbed. In this third
installment in The Sisters Grimm, these fiendishly insane Everafters break loose and
begin terrorizing the population of Ferryport Landing.
This outbreak of trouble just happens to coincide with the return of Sabrina and
Daphne Grimm's Uncle Jake, a man whose very existence has been erased from the
memories of most people in town. Why? Because his rash arrogance led to the escape
of the very bad-guys who have now wreaking havoc again - to say nothing of Grandpa
The villains in this case are somehow involved with the Scarlet Hand, the shadowy
group of anti-Grimm Everafters who kidnapped the girls' parents. So they are doubly
motivated, as fairy-tale detectives, to get to the bottom of this case. Solving it
may help them find their parents.
Once again, the bad guys aren't the only problem Sabrina and her family have to
contend with. Uncle Jake has to work through his guilt to feel worthy of his
mother's forgiveness. Both he and Sabrina struggle with an addiction to magical
objects - being "touched," as Baba Yaga calls it. And what happens to Puck leads
directly to another family crisis, and the succeeding adventure titled Once Upon a
What makes this series of fairy-tale mysteries work so well? Perhaps it is the
author's precise sense of balance. Somehow he keeps brewing these rich concoctions,
with chilling mystery, family drama, rib-tickling spoof and eye-popping magic all at
their proper strength. If it was any more serious, it wouldn't be so much fun for
kids of all ages. If it was any less, it wouldn't make you care so much about its
characters - even the off-center ones. Buckley writes with wit and compassion, but
above all he spins a yarn in which one can easily get caught up.
Recommended Age: 10+
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