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

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

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Hansel and Gretel illustrated by Dorothee Duntze

Hansel and Gretel by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, translated by Anthea Bell,  illustrated by Dorothee Duntze, 2001.


  • Mentions God
  • The one who wants the children taken to the forest is their mother, not a stepmother
  • Hansel drops pebbles but says he is turning back to look at a white kitten on the roof
  • Children follow a white bird to the witch's house
  • House is "built of gingerbread and roofed with cake, and the windowpanes were made of clear sugar."
  • Witch promises no harm will come to them
  • Hansel is locked in a shed instead of a cage
  • Children ride a white duck across the water to get home
  • Mother has died

"Nibble nibble mousie,
Who's nibbling at my housie?"

"The child of the sky,
the wind blowing by."

"Here by the water, little duck,
Hansel and Gretel are out of luck.
There is no bridge, a boat we lack,
Carry us over on your white back."

"That's the end of my tale --look there goes a mouse!
If you catch it in your lap it will make a nice fur cap."

Duntze's surrealistic illustrations provide a dramatic and interesting interpretation of the tale. In the first scene when the starving woodcutter and his horrible wife try to decide what to do, the woman's head covering is bread and she is forcing her husband to look at four miniature caskets. The father's cap is sprouting twigs or trees and he cradles his tiny children surrounded by ferocious forest animals. His actual children look on in dismay. The children are led into a forest featuring what looks like large slices of bread. When the kids return home, the father's hat is growing flowers.

Hansel and Gretel, with golden shocks of hair like dandelions, are first shown innocently playing a hand clapping game. The crotchety witch is dressed like an old peasant woman with too much rouge and sparse and stubby teeth. She looms over a crying Gretel disconcertingly. Her oven has devilish features, and Gretel shuts her into its open maw.

No comments: