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HANSEL AND GRETA by Jeanette Winterson Kirkus Star


From the Fairytale Revolution series

by Jeanette Winterson ; illustrated by Laura Barrett

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-64259-576-5
Publisher: Haymarket Books

“Hansel and Gretel” is reinvented for the modern age in this frolicsome retelling.

This refreshed take on the Grimms’ familiar story begins deep in the woods, like many a fairy tale might, only to diverge into a story of unusual resonance for today. Greta—whose name is an explicit homage to climate activist Greta Thunberg—lives with brother Hansel, their woodcutter father, and the horrifying, goblinlike Aunt GreedyGuts in a hut in the deep dark woods. However, the father tires of destroying the forest, and he and the children opt instead to make a life that seeks sustainability. Aunt GreedyGuts, whose unquenchable appetites are destructive, sets out to destroy not only this new way of life, but also the children themselves and the true-heartedness they represent. The children are banished to the woods as in the original tale, but instead of a wicked witch and her dangerous gingerbread house, they find a modern-day remedy to unsustainable consumption. It is possible that a children’s book about sustainability would be pedantic and moralistic. But instead, this one is funny, with clever, subversive, “larger-than-life silliness,” as Winterson explains in a concluding note. Fresh dialogue draws readers in, and the story’s twists and turns yield discoveries, like a wander through the woods. Illustrations present characters as black silhouettes, Greta sporting her namesake’s distinctive braids.

There are treasures to be found deep in the woods—and in this jewel box of a book.

(Picture book. 11-14)