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by Bee Waeland ; illustrated by Bee Waeland

Pub Date: May 16th, 2023
ISBN: 9781459833821
Publisher: Orca

Waeland (The Three Bears and Goldilocks, 2022) fractures a second familiar fairy tale in this graphically crisp, wordless project.

As the inverted title telegraphs, twists await. A gray-haired witch in owlish red spectacles bakes sweets, a black cat nearby. After a woodcutter and two children reach the forest, Gretel and Hansel wander after a scuttling fox; a robin swiftly consumes Gretel’s scattered baguette crumbs. Discovering the witch’s delectably edible cottage, the pair—eyes popping like candy pinwheels—commence gobbling it, licking lollipops and chomping slabs of cookie siding. The witch invites them inside, and their boots dry beside the woodstove’s crackling fire. The rowdy duo devour a cherry-topped Black Forest cake, candies, fruit, and more—leaving a messy wake that includes an overturned cauldron and cat dish. The witch exacts revenge: A lightning bolt from a star-tipped wand reaches the fleeing Hansel, who is turned into a frog. The woodcutter searches for and tearfully reunites with the children—though the trio seem relatively unbothered by Hansel’s species switch. Meanwhile, the witch and the sleek cat enjoy refreshments, including a cookie with a sly resemblance to Gretel. Flat color and simple, bold shapes yield easily decoded visuals in this quirky, humorous tale. The woodcutter and children have brown skin; Hansel and the woodcutter sport black hair, while Gretel’s tresses match the witch’s flax-colored skin. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

Another wry romp in the author/illustrator’s alternate fairyland, where justice is served to recalcitrant half-pints.

(Picture book. 3-5)