Authors: Polly Shulman
Tags: #Fantasy, #Fiction, #Science Fiction, #General, #Adventure Stories, #Fantasy Fiction, #Magic, #Teenage Girls, #Juvenile Fiction, #Fantasy & Magic, #Action & Adventure, #United States, #Love & Romance, #Children's Books, #Humorous Stories, #High School Students, #Folklore, #People & Places, #New York (N.Y.), #Children: Grades 4-6, #Ages 9-12 Fiction, #Adventure and Adventurers, #Fairy Tales, #Literary Criticism, #Children's Literature, #Books & Libraries, #Libraries
Table of Contents
ALSO BY POLLY SHULMAN
a cognizant original v5 release october 09 2010
G. P. PUTNAM’S SONS
A division of Penguin Young Readers Group.
Published by The Penguin Group.
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,
Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.).
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Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England.
Copyright © 2010 by Polly Shulman.
All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the publisher, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, 345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, Reg. U.S. Pat. & Tm. Off. The scanning, uploading and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content. Published simultaneously in Canada.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
The Grimm Legacy / Polly Shulman. p. cm.
Summary: New York high school student Elizabeth gets an after-school job as a page at the “New-York Circulating Material Repository”, and when she gains coveted access to its Grimm Collection of magical objects, she and the other pages are drawn into a series of frightening adventures involving mythical creatures and stolen goods.
[1. Magic—Fiction. 2. Folklore—Fiction. 3. Fairy tales—Fiction. 4. Adventure and adventurers—Fiction. 5. Libraries—Fiction. 6. New York (N.Y.)—Fiction.] I. Title. PZ7.S559474Gr 2010 [Fic]—dc22 2009028919
eISBN : 978-1-101-18876-7
To Mom and Scott, with love and thanks.
I receive a gift and
Snow fell hard: big, sticky flakes that got under my coat collar where the top button was missing. The weather had delayed my subway, and I was worried I would be late for class.
In front of school, a homeless woman was struggling with a shopping cart. A passing taxi sent out a freezing wave of gray slush, causing the woman and cart to topple over into the gutter.
I had to help. Her hands were icy claws as I pulled her to her feet. She felt much lighter than she looked in her bulky rags. “Thank you,” she said, shaking snow off the blanket that had covered her shoulders. Underneath she wore a T-shirt stuffed with newspaper. And on her feet, to my horror, I saw sandals.
The late bell was about to sound, but I couldn’t abandon someone wearing sandals in the middle of a snowstorm—not when I had a spare pair of shoes with me. I helped her set the cart back on its wheels, then took my gym sneakers out of my bag. “Here,” I said. “Can you use these?” They probably wouldn’t fit—I have embarrassingly large feet. But at least they would be better than sandals.
The woman took them and turned them over, studying the soles. She held the right sneaker close to her face and peered inside, seeming to sniff at it. The left she held to her ear like a telephone.
At last she looked at me. Her eyes were surprisingly bright, a pale, luminous gray like storm clouds.
“Thanks,” she said.
“You want my socks too? Probably not, they need to be washed.” As soon as I’d said it, I realized it was a pretty insensitive thing to say—people with nowhere to live don’t have much opportunity to do laundry. Probably they’re used to dirty socks.
“Thanks,” said the woman again, starting to smell the socks but evidently thinking better of it. “Wait,” she said as I turned toward school. She rummaged through the bags in the cart as the snow continued to tumble down and melt in my collar. I was getting impatient, but I waited till the woman found what she was looking for and held it out to me. “Keep it safe.”
It was a number 2 pencil—the ordinary yellow kind, with a pink eraser, like you use for the SATs. I put it in my book bag, pulled my scarf tighter, and turned toward the school door.
“Hurry, Elizabeth, you’re late,” said a grim voice. My social studies teacher, Mr. Mauskopf, was holding the door open for me. He was my favorite teacher, despite his intimidating sternness.
The homeless woman gave him a little wave, and Mr. Mauskopf nodded back as the door swung shut behind us. I thanked him and hurried to my locker, hearing the late bell chime.
The day went downhill from there. Ms. Sandoz made me play volleyball barefoot when she saw I didn’t have my sneakers, and charming Sadie Cane and Jessica Farmer spent the period playing Accidentally Stomp on the New Girl’s Toes. Then in social studies Mr. Mauskopf announced a research paper due right after New Year’s, effectively eliminating the vacation.
“Choose wisely, Elizabeth,” he said as he handed me the list of possible topics.
My stepsister Hannah called me that evening to ask me to mail her her black lace top. She’d handed it down to me when she left for college, but with Hannah, gifts rarely stayed given for long.
“What are you up to?” she asked.
“Working on ideas for my social studies research paper. European history, with Mr. Mauskopf.”
“I remember Mauskopf—what a weirdo! Does he still wear that green bow tie? And give out demerits if he catches you looking at the clock?”
“Yup.” I quoted him: “‘Time will pass—but will you?’”
Hannah laughed. “What are you writing about?”
“The Brothers Grimm.”
“The fairy-tale guys? For Mauskopf? Are you crazy?”
“It was on his list of suggested topics.”
“Don’t be a little goose. I bet he just put it on there as a test, to see who would be dumb enough to think fairy tales are history. Hey, I probably still have my term paper from that class. You can use it if you like. I’ll trade it for—hm—your good headphones.”
“No, thanks,” I said.
“You sure? It’s about the Paris Commune.”
“That’s cheating. Anyway, Mr. Mauskopf would notice.”
“Suit yourself. Send me that lace top tomorrow, okay? I need it by Saturday.” She hung up.
I chewed at the end of my pencil—the one the homeless woman had given me—and stared at the topic I’d circled, wondering whether to follow Hannah’s advice about switching topics. Mr. Mauskopf took history very seriously, and fairy tales don’t sound that serious. But if he didn’t want us writing about the Brothers Grimm, why put them on the topic list?
Fairy tales were a big part of my childhood. I used to sit in my mother’s lap while she read them out loud and pretend I could read along—until, after a while, I found I actually could. Later, in the hospital when Mom was too sick to hold a book, it was my turn to read our favorites out loud.
The stories all had happy endings. But they didn’t keep Mom from dying.
If she were alive now, I thought, she would definitely approve of my learning more about the men who wrote them. I decided to stick to my choice.
Strange as it sounds, once I decided I found myself actually looking forward to the term paper—it would give me something interesting to do. Vacation was going to be lonely since my best friend, Nicole, had moved to California. I hadn’t made any new friends in the four months I’d been at my new school, Fisher, and the girls I used to hang out with were too busy with ballet to pay much attention to me anymore.
I missed my ballet classes, but Dad said we couldn’t afford them now that he had to pay for my stepsisters’ college tuition, and I was never going to be a professional dancer anyway—I wasn’t obsessed enough, and my feet were too big.
Fairy tales might not be history, but as I learned in the hours I spent in the library over Christmas break, Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm were historians. They didn’t invent their fairy tales—they collected them, writing down the folk tales and stories they heard from friends and servants, aristocrats and innkeepers’ daughters.
Their first collection of stories was meant for grown-ups and I could see why—they’re way too bloody and creepy for children. Even the heroes go around boiling people in oil and feeding them red-hot coals. Imagine Disney making a musical version of “The Girl Without Hands,” a story about a girl whose widowed father chops off her hands when she refuses to marry him!
I thought I’d done a pretty good job when I finished the paper, but I still felt nervous when I handed it in. Mr. Mauskopf is a tough grader.
A few days after we returned from vacation, Mr. Mauskopf stopped me in the hall, pointing a long forefinger at the end of an outstretched arm. He always seemed to have twice as many elbows and knuckles as other people. “Elizabeth! Come see me at lunch,” he said. “My office.”
Was I in trouble? Had my paper creeped him out? Was Hannah right—had I failed some kind of test?
The door to the social studies department office was open, so I knocked on the door frame. Mr. Mauskopf waved me in. “Sit down,” he said.
I perched on the edge of a chair.
He handed me my paper, folded in half along the vertical axis. Comments in his signature brown ink twined across the back. I took a breath and willed myself to look at the grade.
“Nice work, Elizabeth,” he said. Was that a smile on his face? Almost.
I opened the paper. He had given me an A. I leaned back, my heart pounding with relief. “Thank you.”
“What made you choose this topic?”
“I don’t know—I always loved fairy tales. They seem so—so realistic.”
“Realistic? That’s quite an unusual view,” said Mr. Mauskopf with a hint of a smile.
“You’re right.” I felt dumb. “What I mean is, all the terrible things that happen in fairy tales seem real. Or not real, but genuine. Life is unfair, and the bad guys keep winning and good people die. But I like how that’s not always the end of it. Like when the mother dies and turns into a tree and keeps helping her daughter, or when the boy who everybody thinks is an idiot figures out how to outwit the giant. Evil is real, but so is good. They always say fairy tales are simplistic, black and white, but I don’t think so. I think they’re
That’s what I love about them.”
“I see.” Mr. Mauskopf consulted his planner. “You’re new this year, aren’t you?”
I nodded. “I used to go to Chase, but both my stepsisters are in college now, so the tuition . . .” I stopped, a little embarrassed to be discussing my family finances.
“Ah, so you have stepsisters,” Mr. Mauskopf said. “I hope they aren’t the evil Grimm kind?”
“A little,” I replied. Veronica’s a lot older, and Hannah— Hannah hated sharing her room with me after my father and I moved in. Hannah liked having someone to boss around the way Veronica bossed her. Hannah was always taking my things and never letting me use hers. But I couldn’t say any of that—it seemed too disloyal. “My stepsister Hannah was in your class—Hannah Vane,” I said instead.
“Say no more,” said Mr. Mauskopf. He gave me the ghost of a smile, as if we were sharing a joke. Then he asked, “Did you ever replace your sneakers?”
“I recall seeing you give away your sneakers—very generous of you.”
“I haven’t had a chance,” I told him. I didn’t want to get into our embarrassing financial situation again.
“I see.” He cleared his throat. “Well, Elizabeth, this is all very satisfactory. Would you like a job?”
“A job? What kind of a job?”
“An after-school job. A friend of mine at the New-York Circulating Material Repository tells me they have an opening. It’s a great place. I worked there myself when I was your age.”
I tried to imagine him at my age, but the bow tie got in the way. “Is that like a library?”
“‘Like a library.’ Exactly. Well put.”
“Yeah—yes, please. I’d like that,” I said. A job meant money for things like new gym shoes, and it wasn’t like I had a crammed social schedule.
Everybody at Fisher had known each other for aeons. It was already taking them a long time to warm up to me, the new girl. Then I made the mistake of sticking up for Mallory Mason when some of the cool girls were making up songs about her weight and her braces. Worst of all, Ms. Stanhope, the assistant principal, overheard me and used me as an example of “compassionate leadership” in her next “class chat.” After that, nobody wanted to have anything to do with me except Mallory herself. But I didn’t actually like her.
Who knows? Maybe if I took the library job, I would make friends there.
Plucking his fountain pen from his breast pocket, Mr. Mauskopf wrote a number on a slip of paper, folded it vertically, and handed it to me pinched between his index and middle fingers. “Call and ask for Dr. Rust,” he said.
“Thank you, Mr. Mauskopf.” The bell rang, and I hurried to my next class.
That afternoon when I got home, I went straight to my room, avoiding the living room so Cathy, my stepmother, wouldn’t rope me into doing errands or force me to listen to her bragging about my stepsisters.
I wished my father were home so I could tell him about my new job. Not that he listened to me much these days.