Hansel and Gretel by Rika Lesser, Paul O. Zelinsky |, Other Format | Barnes & Noble
Hansel and Gretel

Hansel and Gretel

4.0 6
by Rika Lesser, Paul Zelinsky, Paul O. Zelinsky

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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


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.

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

Product Details

Turtleback Books: A Division of Sanval
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
7.88(w) x 10.78(h) x 0.38(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

 Rika Lesser is a poet and translator of Swedish and German literature.

Paul Zelinsky was born in Evanston, Illinois. He attended Yale University, where he took a course with Maurice Sendak, which later inspired him to pursue a career in children's books. Afterwards he received a graduate degree in painting from Tyler School of Art, in Philadelphia and Rome. Paul Zelinsky lives in New York with his wife, Deborah, and the younger of their two daughters.

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