HANSEL AND GRETEL by Michael Morpurgo

HANSEL AND GRETEL

Age Range: 10 - 12

KIRKUS REVIEW

Morpurgo casts a particularly repugnant witch in this lengthy, expanded version of the classic folktale. Tragedy strikes a happy family when the loathsome Belladonna comes out of the forest and, impelled by a desire to be young, beautiful and loved, transforms Hansel and Gretel’s mother Lisette into a weeping willow and then in disguise turns the head of their grieving father. From there the plot mostly follows its traditional course. Hiding her rage when the children refuse to love her, Belladonna causes a famine and, cruelty being her “special specialty,” badgers her husband into agreeing to dispose of his own children. After that fails, she takes matters into her own hands, making gleefully sure that both children understand just what fate she has in store for them. All of her spells are broken after Gretel shoves her into the oven, though, and the stage is set for a happily-ever-after ending. This psychologically freighted rendition isn’t nearly as innocuous as the sparkly cover suggests, but Chichester Clark’s slightly distant, brightly patterned cartoon illustrations ameliorate some of the tale’s more unsettling aspects. (Picture book/folktale. 10-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7636-4012-5
Page count: 64pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2008




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