"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hansel and Gretel, Illustrated by Sybille Schenker

Hansel and Gretel, Illustrated by Sybille Schenker, 2011.

  • No mention of God
  • Doesn't have Hansel drop pebbles first
  • Hansel drops breadcrumbs
  • Children follow a white bird to the witch's house
  • Witch promises no harm will come to them
  • Gives detail on the witch, including her keen sense of smell
  • Children ride a white duck across the water to get home


"Nibble, nibble, munch munch,
Who is chewing on my house?"

"Duck, duck, Help Hansel and Gretel.
There's no bridge and no track.
Take us on your little white back."

In this version of the book, the format is important. Schenker uses die cut pages and vellum overlays  to create exciting and dramatic visuals. Black silhouettes and layers of images create a sense of foreboding such as when the children are led to and abandoned in the woods. Printed on orange vellum, the stepmother is shown in stark outline pointing her finger accusingly at her husband, and with a turn of the page, she's looming larger than life over the scene of the family heading into the forest:

From Schenker's webpage at http://cargocollective.com/sybille

The book's black cover contrasts with its die cut title that shows the flower sprigged yellow calico print behind it. This same background is used in the scenes of the children finding the treat house and meeting the deceptive witch. The cottage is a patchwork of homey patterns with the only hint of its sweetness shown with a panel of chocolate. The witch is a hunched old lady in sweetly patterned clothes similar to the children's but her eyes are red, her forehead is scrunched up and her nails are frighteningly long. In her home, the table is laid out with treats, but they are featured against a blood red background, and on the following vellum page, the only image is the witch's hand reaching down ominously. The reader can see through to the next page of the siblings "safe" in bed, with the hand hovering over them.

As the children return home, the silhouetted images become beautiful instead of frightening: a butterfly, meadow flowers and a great antlered stag. The final picture, of the children reuniting with their father, is colored summer grass green.

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