Once Upon a Time! A Story of the Brothers Grimm (Hardcover) by Robert Quackenbush. Prentice Hall, 1985. ISBN: 0136345360. pp: 36.
Ages: 8-12, gr: 3-6
Reprinted in a special two-books-in-one paperback edition Two Slapstick Biographies (January 8, 1999) Robert Quackenbush Studios. ISBN: 0961251816. pp: 64



Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were the oldest of six children. They were born just over a year apart in 1785 and 1786, and were inseparable through all but one year of their lives. They studied law, but never practiced it. Instead, they spent their entire lives collecting German stories, folksongs, and tales that were handed down in the oral tradition. They also began writing a complete dictionary of the German language. They finished four volumes before they died, but the 32-volume dictionary was not completed until 1962.


  1. Adapt one of the Grimm Brothers’ fairytales into a play. Present the play to younger students.

  2. The Grimm brothers were born in the 1780s. What was happening in the United States at that time?

  3. The Napoleonic Wars were being fought at this time in Europe. Who was Napoleon? Work through the activity for Napoleon in His Study to learn how the artist tells us about Napoleon.

  4. Find a map of the Kingdoms of Germany during the 18th century. Then chart all of the towns in which the Brothers Grimm lived.

  5. Read as many of the Grimm Brothers’ fairytales as you can. Discuss: Is there a common motif in them? How are they different from similar tales from other countries, France and/or England for instance?

  6. Which of the Grimm Brothers’ fairytales is your favorite? Rewrite your favorite fairytale in your own words. Then illustrate it yourself. Read your completed story to younger students.

  7. Explore the website about the Brothers Grimm created by National Geographic. You can hear the 1914 versions of twelve of the fairytales. There are also activities, a map, a history of the Brothers Grimm, and much more at this site.

  8. The Brothers Grimm collected the stories and wanted them published to promote their love and loyalty for their German heritage. During World War II, Hitler promoted the Grimm brothers’ collections of stories, including those with anti-Semitic tones. How do you think Jacob and Wilhem would have felt about this? How do you feel about this? Defend your answer.

  9. The Brothers Grimm were proud of their German heritage. Write your own fairytale based on American pride, set in today’s society.

  10. For high school students only. Read Grimm’s Last Fairytale: A Novel by Haydn Middleton, published by St. Martin’s Press, 2002. Compare the information in this book to Robert Quackenbush’s biography.

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