children's books, fiction, reviews

Hansel and Gretel

rylantI should be honest–as much as I like fairy tales I’ve never really cared for Hansel and Gretel. A brother and sister being left in a forest to starve and die by their cruel stepmother and cowardly father. Then for the siblings to find the gingerbread house in the middle of the woods. We’re all aware of what happens next. As a child I always wanted an explanation. Why was the stepmother so cruel? Why was the father such a coward?

Cynthia Rylant’s retelling of Hansel and Gretel is the story that’s been missing. In the beginning,

It has been said that guardian spirits watch over and protect small children, and that may be so. But there are also stories of children who find the courage to protect themselves.

Such is the story of Hansel and Gretel.

Instantly I was lost inside this short tale. With illustrations by Jen Corace, it’s a new classic. What’s different about this re-telling from all others is the feel and language of the book.

The father and the stepmother again told the children to wait under a tree, promising this time certainly to return with berries.

The children waited all night. By morning they were waiting still.

I read Hansel and Gretel in one sitting and reread it before getting up. This book will be a new addition to my children’s library.

Book Infomation:

  • Hansel and Gretel by Cynthia Rylant (2008)
  • Illustrated by Jen Coarce
  • Hyperion Books for Children
  • 32 pages

Read for the Once Upon a Time, Young Readers, and 100+ challenges

11 thoughts on “Hansel and Gretel”

  1. Hansel and Gretel is heartbreaking, mostly because their dad didn’t seem to care enough to protect them. But I remember one version I used to read as a kid where the dad did try his best. It had wonderful illustrations as well. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the author nor illustrator. My kids have never heard this story because I haven’t found the right book. Once, we checked out a retelling from the library but only got to the first couple of pages because it didn’t feel right. This, however, sounds good the way you describe it. Might also end up on our shelves one day, thanks!

  2. Btw, you’re very welcome to join in the 2666 read-along. I’ll be posting more about it soon, to talk about the wrap-up Q&A, but for sure we’ll start in May, and stretch into the following months.

  3. Claire: No problem. I hope it’s okay. I still struggle with the story myself. I think it’s just part of being a protective parent.

    Thanks for the invite! I can’t wait!

  4. I noticed when I was looking up another book by her that my library has this book. I think I might have to pick up a copy!

  5. Definitely sounds like my kind of retelling. And judging by the cover, I think I’d really like the art.

    I agree with Claire – it’s such a sad fairy tale.

  6. Oh this sounds like a nice retelling! I read the Complete Fairy Tales by the Grimm brothers the other month and it was quite grisly, although interesting. I don’t think I”ll ever read that to my son, though! This looks like it has nice pictures too. Thanks for the review.

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