Bestselling children’s author Adam Gidwitz–who penned A Tale Dark and Grimm and other books–visited with Paul Cuffee students in October to chill them with spooky tales and enlighten them about the writing process. As a former elementary school teacher himself, Gidwitz was at home with his audience of fourth through sixth graders and kept the students enthralled with his humor and storytelling.
Gidwitz described the origins of his books, which are retellings of stories by the brothers Grimm. One day, working as a substitute teacher, he was told he could read any stories he wanted to the children in his class. He brought along one of his favorite volumes, the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales. The students were mesmerized by the dark, unexpurgated tales, which had become sanitized in most later versions to be more “acceptable.” As he listened to the students exclaim, “Those stories were GREAT!” his career as a bestselling author was born.
Young readers identify with the characters his books because they overcome adversity, said Gidwitz, acknowledging that the draws from his own childhood struggles with school, parents, and friends for his writing. Although he never thought of himself as a writer when he was young, he said he should have, and encouraged Paul Cuffee students to do the same.
His message was both optimistic and energizing. Fifth grade teacher Kathryn Conley notes that her students returned to the classroom already asking for paper to begin writing their own stories. Lower School librarian Megan Madden says she’s never seen such enthusiasm for a writer. “At least 20 kids were lined up outside my door this morning hoping that copies of the book [A Tale Dark and Grimm] might have been returned so they could check them out. They are dying to read it.”