Post by Mark T. Locker.
Hansel and Gretel by Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Jen Corace.
I reckon that everyone in the Western world is at least somewhat acquainted with the classic Grimms’ fairy tales. Among their hundreds of stories, Hansel and Gretel is among the best-known, and among the best-known, surely the cruelest. So why should this be a bedtime story? Well, maybe your children will learn some valuable lessons (though it seems to me that the moral of Hansel and Gretel is, at best, vague) or maybe because—you know—happy endings! Personally, I love the story of Hansel and Gretel. I have always been fascinated by the image of being led by milky-white stones illuminated by the blue glow of the moon. I even had a pet gecko named Gretel!
This particular rendition is especially lovely. Written in a simple straightforward manner by acclaimed author Cynthia Rylant and richly illustrated by the NW’s own Jen Corace, this version is scores better than other tellings I have read. Naturally, you should use your best judgment to determine whether reading to your child about witchcraft, cannibalism and kids being abandoned in the woods is the right way to leave your child for dreamtime. And frankly, much as I love Jen Corace’s stylized illustrations, the children’s gray eyes seem a little dead and creepy. But hey, that’s me!