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

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

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Hansel and Gretel by Ian Wallace

Hansel and Gretel by Ian Wallace, 1994.


  • Setting is by the sea on the edge of a forest
  • Does not mention God
  • Children drop pebbles but say they're turning back to wave goodbye to the cat on the roof
  • Hansel drops breadcrumbs but says he is turning back to wave goodbye to a pigeon on the roof
  • Children follow a white bird to the witch's house
  • House was "made of sweets with a roof made of cake and pure sugar for windows."
  • Witch promises no harm will come to them
  • Hansel is kept in a pen rather than a cage

"Nibbling, nibbling like a mouse.
Who's that nibbling at my house?"

Ian Wallace made his illustrations in pastel pencil on black paper. The witch's head appears on the horizon on the book's cover, but Wallace does not show her "human" face inside at all, although she does appear in a surrealistic, ominous form as the forest and in a creepy visual postscript as a witch-shaped cloud of smoke rising from the oven chimney. Like Anthony Browne's book, (Picture books: Hansel and Gretel), this Hansel and Gretel has a more modern setting than most. The family's shabby  home appears to have a drop tile ceiling and a 70s vibe lamp, the father wears a baseball cap, the kids wear casual pants and the stepmother reads a scandal sheet of the "Batboy found!" variety. The art has dark overtones, from the literally dim and engulfing woods to the children's reunion with their father near the cemetery by their home. Wallace's version of the story is not your typical one, and is worth a look.

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