"Once upon a time there was a poor woodcutter who lived near a great forest with his wife and his two children. The little boy was called Hansel, and the little girl's name was Gretel.
So begins this classic Grimm tale of two innocent children, abandoned in the forest by their cruel mother, who happen upon the enchanting gingerbread house of a wicked witch. Hansel's cunning and little Gretel's courage foil the witch's evil plan to fatten them up and eat them, and in the best fairy tale tradition, they and their loving father live happily ever after.
Dorothee Duntze's elegant, stylized illustrations provide an intriguing new interpretation of this childhood favorite, a satisfying story of evil punished and goodness rewarded.
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)