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

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

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Hansel & Gretel by Lisbeth Zwerger

Hansel & Gretel by the Brothers Grimm & Lisbeth Zwerger, Trans. by Elizabeth D. Crawford, 1979.

  • Mentions God
  • Hansel drops pebbles but says he is turning back to look at a white kitten on the roof
  • Children think that their father is nearby in the woods, but he has fixed a tree branch to strike a tree to sound like an axe cutting wood
  • Hansel drops breadcrumbs but says he is turning back to look at a dove on the roof
  • Children follow a white bird to the witch's house
  • House was "made of bread and roofed with cakes, and the windows were of pure sugar."
  • Witch promises no harm will come to them
  • Gives detail on the witch, including her keen sense of smell
  • Hansel is kept in a kennel rather than a cage
  • Children ride a white duck across the water to get home

"Nibble, nibble, munch, munch.
Who is gnawing on my house?"

"The wind, the wind,
The heavenly wind."

"Duckling, duckling,
Help Hansel and Gretel.
There's no footbridge and no track.
Take us on your little white back."

Zwerger's watercolor illustrations  are done in neutral colors and put the focus on the children and their reactions. The woods are really a brown blur and the stepmother, a plain but normal looking woman, is only shown once. Even the witch is fairly subtle. Her robe has an absence of color and her skin a very faint green tint. Her most striking features are her amber eyes, that put one in mind of a snake or a toad. The overall effect is dreamy and melancholy, until the happy ending.

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