Hansel and Gretel


The first Grimm tale illustrated by 1998 Caldecott medalist Paul O. Zelinsky is once again available in hardcover. Originally published in 1984, Zelinsky's paintings for Hansel and Gretel are as compelling as his later work and will captivate readers with their mysterious beauty, emotional power, and brilliant originality. Each spread brings to life a world as rich and real as our own—detailed, colorful, sensual—yet filled with the unearthly shadowed magic of the Hansel and Gretel folktale. Whether portraying the...
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The first Grimm tale illustrated by 1998 Caldecott medalist Paul O. Zelinsky is once again available in hardcover. Originally published in 1984, Zelinsky's paintings for Hansel and Gretel are as compelling as his later work and will captivate readers with their mysterious beauty, emotional power, and brilliant originality. Each spread brings to life a world as rich and real as our own—detailed, colorful, sensual—yet filled with the unearthly shadowed magic of the Hansel and Gretel folktale. Whether portraying the fear and anguish of children abandoned by their parents, the delicious sumptuousness of a candy house, or the joy of being reunited with one's family, the artist captures the subtle nuances of emotion and the tactile quality of the physical world with exquisite accuracy and elegance. The hauntingly spare retelling of this perennial favorite by the poet Rika Lesser perfectly complements the vivid storytelling of Zelinsky's artwork. Once again this gifted artist gives us a unique interpretation of a beloved fairy tale, allowing us to both see it anew and rediscover its eternal truths.

When they are left in the woods by their parents, two children find their way home despite an encounter with a wicked witch.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Originally published in Britain, this is a moody, intense version of the fairy tale that Browne has infused with modern references, heightening the uncanny aspects of an already frightening story. Famine has struck, and the father is persuaded by a frowsy stepmother to ditch their children in the woods. She dies by the time Hansel and Gretel find their way out, after killing the witch. Browne presents jarring, poignant touches through his surrealist eyetrees claw their way to the sky, Gretel's knees are grimly unwashed, the oily-looking wallpaper in their home is cracked and peeling. If the family's poverty of other versions has an aura of romance, this book shows a grinding, terrible hungerfirst for food and then for happiness. It is an unforgettable, moving vision. Ages 3-8. (April)
Children's Literature
It's only a story...it's only make believe...This re-telling of the classic Grimm tale is not for the very young, and in this day and age of child abuse, neglect and terrorism could be considered just plain frightening. Readers need to carefully explain to their listeners that good ALWAYS triumphs over evil, even if it is uncomfortable, painful and a long process. A woodcutter and his wife are bemoaning their plight of hunger¾there is not enough money to feed a family of four. The woodcutter's wife venomously plans to lose their children in the woods—hopefully to be free of them for good. Reluctantly, the woodcutter agrees, unaware that their children have heard the whole conversation. Hansel and Gretel obligingly follow their parents into the woods. Hansel cleverly drops white pebbles that glisten in the moonlight, ensuring a path home for two lonely, frightened children. Again, their mother insists "We must get rid of the children!" and again, their father gives in. Again, all four obedient children set out for the forest. This time, Hansel drops breadcrumbs to find their way home, but all are eaten by the birds. Now the children are alone. A white bird leads them to a house in the forest made of gingerbread, cakes and clear sugar. Immediately the children begin to eat. Noticing someone nibbling on her home, an old woman invites the children inside, assuring them no harm. However, the next day, she erupts as the evil witch, making plans to eat Hansel and Gretel. Still, the brother and sister keep their wits and manage to outsmart their captor. As the oven is being prepared for baking, Gretel feigns ignorance and asks the witch how to know if it is ready. As the witchdemonstrates, she is pushed into the oven and the door is bolted. Now Hansel and Gretel can once again find their way out of the forest. They return to their father's house, bringing treasure from the gingerbread house. As their mother has died (coincidence?), the children are now safe and sound. While this tale has a happy ending for some, getting there could be quite traumatic for some readers. Well-placed comfort words and Hansel's admonition of "God will not forsake us" are necessary if this story is being read aloud, especially to younger children. The illustrations, though exaggerated at times, help convey the disparity of the family as well as the sense of wilderness in the forest and the tenderness of the children coming home. A nice/unique addition to a fairy tale collection, but certainly not unequaled. 2001, North-South Books, $15.95 and $15.88. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Elizabeth Young AGES: 4 5 6 7 8
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-A brooding, surrealistic version of the classic fairy tale. Wallace modernizes the Grimms' story, turning the stepmother into the more ambiguous "the woman"; making Gretel into Hansel's equal partner (eliminating her crying); and omitting all mention of God. Otherwise, the text follows the original pretty faithfully. The illustrations, done in pastel pencils on black paper, have an eerie gloominess and iridescent quality. The witch's face is only shown on the cover, but the pictures inside are scary enough. When the children are alone in the forest, they are tiny figures in an alien, threatening landscape. What looks like a giant, half-submerged face seems to threaten them at one point; a huge hourglass next to Hansel's cage underlines the urgency of his danger; and the siblings' reunion with their father takes place near a graveyard. At the end, the text proclaims the traditional litany of "...they lived in perfect happiness from then on," but a turn of the page reveals an ominous rebirth of the witch. Somewhat surprisingly, there are not many good picture-book versions of this tale in print. James Marshall's (Dial, 1990) is excellent for the very young-the witch is not scary and a sense of humor pervades the text; Susan Jeffers's (Dial, 1980) is traditional and beautiful. Wallace's is unusual and emphasizes the dark side of the tale. It is definitely a distinguished book to savor; independent readers will pore over its pages and scrutinize its details.-Judith Constantinides, East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-This version of the familiar tale of two clever children who overcome their fears and triumph over evil, while clear and readable, tends toward the lurid. For example, when Gretel pushes the witch into the oven, the text reads: "The old witch burned to death, screaming and howling miserably." Duntze's startlingly imaginative illustrations range from impressionistic to surreal, and vary in size and coloration to match the changing moods of the narrative. The cleverly wrought bread-strewn endpapers set the tone for this stylized picture book. While a few of the images are potentially frightening, most will agree that the illustrations are accomplished and very special, indeed.-Barbara Buckley, Rockville Centre Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780698114074
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 11/28/1996
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 415,251
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD680L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 11.25 (h) x 0.14 (d)

Meet the Author

After studying at Marburg, Jacob became a clerk in the War Office at Kassel, and in 1808 librarian to Jerome Bonaparte, King of Westphalia. In 1841 he received Professorship at Berlin, and in 1854 began work on Deutsches Worterbuch with his brother.

Dorothee Duntze was born in Reims, France. She studied art at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Reims and the Ecole des Arts Decoratifs in Strasbourg. Among the other books she has illustrated for North-South are The Emperor's New Clothes, The Princess and the Pea, and Hansel and Gretel.

Anthea Bell (translator) is the recipient of the Schlegel Tieck Prize for translation from German, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize in 2002 for the translation of W. G. Sebald's "Austerlitz", and the 2003 Austrian State Prize for Literary Translation. She lives in Cambridge, England.

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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2007

    Hansel and Gretel

    Hansel and Gretel¿s mother wanted their father to take them into the forest and leave them. Their parents were poor and not able to feed all four of them. The children heard this and Gretel cried. Hansel didn¿t cry but said, ¿It will be all right. I have an idea.¿ Hansel snuck out and collected some white pebbles. The next morning while they walked deep into the woods with their parents, Hansel dropped pebbles to mark their path. When the moon was up they followed the pebbles home to find a happy father but an angry mother. The children heard their mother again tell the father that ¿he must take them into the forest.¿ The door was locked so Hansel could not get out to collect pebbles. The next day he left a trail of bread crumbs instead because that was all he had. The next morning the birds and animals had eaten the bread crumbs. They found a house made of bread & candy while trying to find their way home. The hungry kids began eating very fast. ¿Nibble, Nibble, Nibble! Who gnaws my house to rubble?¿ a woman¿s voice said. The woman took them in and took care of them. Then the old woman wanted to eat Hansel and Gretel. What will they do? This is a great story that has been read for many generations. Paul Zelinsky now lives in New York City. In 1998, he won the Caldecott Medal. He did a great job with retelling the Grimm tale through pictures. They are captivating and colorful. Poet Rika Lesser does a great job retelling the popular tale through words. This was the tales first transcription and first appearance in print. She is also known for three collections of poetry Growing Back and prize-winning translations. Lesser, Rika. Hansel and Gretel. New York: Puffin, 1996.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2003

    A Great Book!

    I liked the part when Hansel and Gretel found a full box of jewels and they said they woud never be poor. Their father told them that their step mother had run away but Hansel said as long as we are all together we will live happy.

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    Posted December 1, 2009

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    Posted April 17, 2010

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    Posted November 8, 2009

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