CLEVER GRETCHEN by John Warren Stewig


Age Range: 5 - 8
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A fresh and buoyant look at the well-known folktale. Gretchen, the mayor’s daughter, falls in love with villager Hans, brave and good-natured. But the mayor wants the best huntsman in the world for his daughter. A discouraged Hans comes upon a cloven-footed, dwarfish stranger in the forest, who promises him victory if Hans signs a contract to serve him after seven years. Hans does and Gretchen is his, for seven years seems a long time. When their eldest child is six, Hans tells Gretchen of his bargain, noting that the only escape clause is if Hans can ask the dwarf a question he cannot answer. Gretchen comes up with a solution—and it’s quite an amusing one. Soft-edged and sunny watercolors are full of winsome detail—the black-eyed Susans wound in Gretchen’s long braid, and the baleful expressions on the faces of Hans’s dog and Gretchen’s cats. The language has a nice ring to it: Hans’s mother going to see the mayor, “though doubt was heavy in her shoes” and the dwarf “chummy as if they’d eaten porridge out of the same pot.” This Gretchen’s a winner. (Picture book/folktale. 5-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-7614-5066-1
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2000


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