Hansel and Gretel

Overview

Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora gives readers a stunning new interpretation of this classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale, setting the infamous witch's cottage deep in a lush African forest. Hansel and Gretel's plight feels all the more threatening as they're plunged into the thick, dark jungle of Isadora's rich collages.

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Overview

Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora gives readers a stunning new interpretation of this classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale, setting the infamous witch's cottage deep in a lush African forest. Hansel and Gretel's plight feels all the more threatening as they're plunged into the thick, dark jungle of Isadora's rich collages.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Isadora again moves a traditional fairy tale to Africa. There the woodcutter, facing hard times, is convinced by his children's stepmother to abandon them in the woods. The first time he does, the children follow the pebbles Hansel has dropped back home. The second time, the birds eat the crumbs he drops. Deep in the woods the children find the house made here of cake and sugar. The voice from inside recites the traditional, "Nibble, nibble, little mouse…" The wicked witch locks Hansel in a cage. But clever Gretel manages to shove the witch into the oven for the happy ending. As in her other retellings, the artist uses self-prepared and found patterned cut papers along with oil paints to create flamboyant scenes hot with the emotions of the tropics. The forest here is of palm trees, with a multitude of exotic animal life, creating the appropriate venue for the African-costumed siblings. The witch, in scratchy black and dark greens is frightening, but the children are solid. Both text and illustrations lend themselves to comparisons with other versions of the story. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

Gr 1-3

Isadora's abbreviated retelling of the popular Grimm Brothers tale closely follows the original in both plot and detail while making the story more accessible to a younger audience. With the same artistic style she used in her adaptations of The Twelve Dancing Princesses (2007) and The Fisherman and His Wife (2008, both Putnam), she again sets her tale in Africa, piecing colorfully patterned and hand-painted papers together to create bold, busy eye-catching scenes with a strong ethnic feel, although no specific culture is featured. Scenes include a thatch-roofed hut, a large orange sun, coconut palms, and trees shaped like baobabs. Faces cut from brown-streaked paper in silhouette style are, nevertheless, filled with emotion, resulting from the shapes and placement of eyes and mouths. Even young children will comprehend the domineering stepmother; the meek father; and the fearful, disbelieving children. While most scenes are set against stark white backgrounds, several night scenes, filled with an array of wildlife, appear dark and foreboding, but not overly scary. The witch, a black-costumed hag with green hands and face and red-highlighted eyes, provides the only potentially frightening element. Those youngsters who can deal with the malice of stepmother and witch will delight in this highly artistic and unusual presentation.-Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH

Kirkus Reviews
Another African-acculturated fairy tale by Isadora continues her sequence of retellings depicted with textured collages in vivid colors. The straightforward account dispatches the witch by burning her up in the oven (a large stone fireplace) and kills the mean stepmother offstage, with the children returning home to their loving father. The brightly colored scenes weave a variety of flora and fauna into the backgrounds, the children wear African-styled clothing and Gretel sports dreadlocks. The witch is genuinely scary, but the "gingerbread" house doesn't look like the description at all: "they came to a little house built entirely of bread with a roof made of cake and windows made of sugar." Nothing about the illustration suggests a house made of candy: The roof is pink with cut-outs of chocolate bon-bons pasted on, the cross-hatched door is daubed with magenta and brown and the sides look like fabric imprints. All in all, this sequence raises the question, do the classic tales need remodeling? (Picture book/fairy tale. 5-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399250286
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/2/2009
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 666,766
  • Age range: 6 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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