Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel

4.5 2
by Cynthia Rylant, Jen Corace
     
 

Once upon a time,
deep in the dark, green forest
there was an exquisite house made of cake and sugar—
a house made to lure lost, hungry children.

But the witch whose delicious house
lured Hansel and his sister, Gretel
had forgotten two things about lost children:
they can be very clever
and very brave.

Overview

Once upon a time,
deep in the dark, green forest
there was an exquisite house made of cake and sugar—
a house made to lure lost, hungry children.

But the witch whose delicious house
lured Hansel and his sister, Gretel
had forgotten two things about lost children:
they can be very clever
and very brave.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
There is always room for a fresh retelling of the traditional tale of Hansel and Gretel. The essential elements are all here: the wicked stepmother, the weak father, the poverty and hunger, the tasty cottage, the evil witch and the brave, clever children. Rylant brings brisk life and emotion to her text, with reference to "guardian spirits" who watch over small children, especially those who have courage. At the end, the stepmother has conveniently died, and "Love would take care of the rest." Corace imagines this classic tale as a piece of theater; the scenes seem set on a stage. The characters have a doll-like character, as if someone manipulates their heads and limbs into set positions. The forests look like painted flats; even the witch's cottage lacks architectural dimensions. The eerie quiet in the scenes, the super-clean look, seem to cast a magic net to freeze time. This sophisticated version is clearly designed to appeal to esthetic instincts while maintaining few concerns for emotional content. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

K-Gr 3

Rylant retells the familiar Grimm tale with an emphasis on the courage and character of its young protagonists. She opens by noting that while guardian spirits may protect small children, "Hansel and Gretel" is the story "of children who find the courage to protect themselves." She focuses on the family dynamics: the weakness of their father, the cruel machinations of the bitter stepmother, and the effect on the children. The language is forceful and direct throughout: the siblings learn that wickedness takes many forms, and that a smile often masks evil intentions. After escaping the witch, the children are helped on their way home by a large swan, and Rylant surmises that perhaps guardian spirits finally intervene "when small children have already been so brave." Complementing this retelling, Corace's pen-and-ink artwork features neutral hues and sober-faced children. The book has an old-fashioned, handcrafted look with illustrations and text carefully placed on each page. There are many fine versions of this tale, including Rika Lesser and Paul O. Zelinsky's version (Dutton, 1999), but libraries will want to add this distinctive retelling for Rylant's strong-minded voice and Corace's attractive art.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

Kirkus Reviews
Observing that the classic tale features resourceful children saving themselves from evil rather than relying on "guardian spirits" or other outside help, Rylant delivers a straight, simply phrased retelling that Corace illustrates with clean-lined woodland scenes featuring figures in, largely, modern-looking country dress. Because the characters stand and gesture like dancers, and bear abstracted (or, in the cases of the stepmother and the witch, mildly annoyed) expressions, there is a theatrical quality to the large pictures that will help more sensitive children keep the story's betrayals and dangers at arm's length. So, too, does the text: The father, readers learn, "agreed to do what his selfish wife told him to do, for he had no fight left in him." There are zillions of versions available, but the language and the visual harmony of this one makes it particularly suitable for sharing with younger audiences. (Picture book/folktale. 4-6)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781423111863
Publisher:
Disney-Hyperion
Publication date:
09/16/2008
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
10.10(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
3 - 5 Years

Meet the Author

Cynthia Rylant has written more than 100 children's books, from board books and picture books, to chapter books and novels. Rylant won the Newbery Medal for her novel Missing May, and a Newbery Honor for A Fine White Dust. She's also the author of more than twenty Henry and Mudge chapter books, and she became the first recipient of the Theodore Seuss Geisel Award in 2006 for Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas. She has illustrated her own picture books as well, including Dog Heaven and Cat Heaven.

Jen Corace made her debut as a children's book illustrator with Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, which was a 2005 Book Sense Children's Pick and an IRA Children's Choice in 2006. A graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in Illustration, Jen has worked extensively as a freelance illustrator and designer. She lives and works in Seattle.

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Hansel and Gretel 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a collector of fairy tale books I just had to pick this this up. The illustrations are amazing. This was my first look at Jen Corace's work and now I am hooked. The story stays fairly true to the original Grimm Brothers version. If you are looking for a unique Hansel and Gretel book I highly recommend this one.
saladd More than 1 year ago
I searched for a version of Hansel and Gretel that wasn't as brutal and horrifying for young children to read as some that I looked at, and this one fit the bill. It doesn't lose the essential ingredients of the story, including the scary journey these two children take into the forest and meeting the witch in her confection house. But in this tale, it is suggested that the children call upon spiritual guides to help them and their weak father is led astray by the wicked stepmother, whereas in other tales the two parents decide to abandon their children on the forest so they can eat, urged on by the mother. At least an evil stepmother is a little more understandable than an abandoning mother and father. The wicked witch is satisfactorily bested by the two clever children, who return to their loving father (the stepmother has died in the interim). The illustrations are dreamlike and beautiful in an understated way. There is a spiritual element to this book that takes it to a new level so that children understand that they can rely on inner guidance and overcome great obstacles. Fairy tales have great power to ignite the imagination and speak about the nature of good and evil in a way that children can grasp and remember as necessary enchantments. This one does not disappoint.