The stories of the Brothers Grimm have captivated children since they were first published in 1812 as Children's and Household Tales. Many Europeans in the early 1800s saw life as cruel and erratic. Despite the cruel actions that took place in many of these tales, each one of them taught a lesson.
These original tales were often dark, violent, and bloody in nature. A lot of people consider the original fairy tales to be unsuitable for children today. Susan Meredith has written kinder, gentler versions of several of these fairy tales, all of them grandparent approved. So far The Enchanted Flounder, Snow White, Rumpelstiltskin, CinderElla, and Little Red Riding Hood have been retold in a way that is guaranteed not to give children nightmares.
Hansel and Gretel, by Susan Meredith, is the latest addition to the Gram's Fairy Tale collection. In the original story, Hansel and Gretel's parents are very poor and don't have enough food for all of them. Their cold-hearted mother comes up with a plan to take the children in the woods and leave them. The first time they do this, the children find their way back home, for Hansel left a trail of white pebbles. Their father is relieved to see them return, but their mother is furious. She wants to take them deeper into the woods and leave them. The only thing Hansel has to leave a trail with this time is crumbs from his last piece of bread. He leaves a trail, but the woodland creatures and birds eat it all up. They are truly lost this time.
They manage to find their way to a very inviting cottage that is built entirely out of sweets. An old lady opens the door and invites them in. The kind old lady turns out to be a cruel witch who plans on eating both of these innocent children. Toward the end of the tale, when the witch is trying to make Gretel test the heat of the oven so she can close her in and cook her, the young girl fools the witch into checking the heat. Gretel shoves the wicked witch in and closes the door, thus putting an end to the cruel witch.
There is no wicked witch in the kinder, gentler version of this fairy tale, just a lovable old lady who like to be called Granny.
Hansel and Gretel have wonderful parents who love them, but much to the children's chagrin, they are only allowed to eat healthy foods. And they do so want to eat some yummy sugary desserts or some cookies. Even a lollipop would be great. Neither are the children allowed to stay up late, so they complain a lot and bend the rules whenever they find the opportunity.
One day the brother and sister are in the woods and their father is too busy to keep an eye on them, so they sneak away. They have done this several times before and always managed to find their way back. But this time they hiked too deep into the forest, so far they couldn't find their way back. Sleeping in the forest wasn't something they had planned on, but they didn't have much choice. The next morning they try to find their way home again, but they are only drawn deeper and deeper into the forest by the animals.
They look up and find themselves surrounded by marshmallow birds covered with yellow sugar crystals. Up ahead of them, through a clearing of green cellophane grass, they see a house. Not just any house, but a chocolate chip cookie house that has a brownie roof, caramel steps, and a frosting porch!
“Granny” invites them inside for milk and cookies. She offers to let them stay with her, as long as they call her Granny, and they will be free to do whatever they want! How lucky can they possibly get? All the sweets they want and no responsibilities! So, of course they stay.
It is a dream come true. They have no school, no work of any kind. For breakfast they have scrumptious brownies. Lunch is hot fudge sundaes topped with cherries. Dinner? Well, that is birthday cake and ice cream. In between meals, they fill their growing bellies with milkshakes and candy bars. And Granny just keeps on baking more and more sweets.
Do you think Hansel and Gretel will stay there forever? Or do you think they will return to their loving parents? In order to find out, you will have to buy a copy of this delightful tale yourself. I have provided an Amazon link below just in case you wish to do so. My copy of Hansel and Gretel was sent to me free of charge by the publisher.
For young readers, various words throughout the book are underlined. These words many not be familiar to those just beginning to read. At the end of the book, a small illustrated dictionary explains what these words mean.
Are there any more of Grimm's Fairy Tales that you think Susan Meredith should make kinder and gentler? Please let me know what you think.